Straight after the residency had finished with AirSpace, it was time to set up the Narrative exhibition . The exhibition ‘ Consume My Shopping Mall’ was shown in an empty unit.
Most of the walls were white washed, we took a contemporary approach using premium brilliant white. However this wasn’t without consideration of the work, as the curator one must ask what the work asks for. Two walls were considered better bare with the plywood grain showing through, as Patrick Dunn’s subject matter involved nature and industry which the plywood embodies not only that the wood grain reinforced Dunn’s straight edge paintings. I allowed myself the space to really look, and see the opportunity of the wooden boards before an hasty movement on painting them white. If the work is mostly greyscale a burnt red or a crimson red wall can bring out the tonal dimension of the imagery or painting or sculpture, whereas the work can be lost to a white wall because most part of the greyscale is largely white. These decisions have to be made with concept in mind. As colour effects how we view the work, but at the same time it is possible if not worth creating new associations. And isn’t it our jobs as artist, to challenge functionalities.
An example of use, apologies over the out of focus image taken at Frieze Art Fair 2015 of George Shaw’s Installation of drawings- Spare Time, 2005-2006. The red can create prestige due to historical references of use, seen in prestigious gallery and museums underpinning religious paintings. The use of colour has been updated , and recently used to break up space allowing greyscale work’s to indeed have colour seen with George Shaw’s Installation with unframed drawings.
In Martin Scorese’s short film The Big Shave, although the film is not seen in ‘black and white’ , the white padded cell accompanied by a man shaving , the routine , repetitive, the viewer having seen no space outside the room is also trapped within his cycle, the actions seem like self harming , yet the action seems out of his control. The final gesture, a mark that defines the end, the blade with one stroke runs across the throat, spilling a slightly darkened blood. It is this singular humane mark, that breaks the terror of such whiteness, a militant strike to a military order.
Martin Scorsese’s The Big Shave
Such curatorial decisions can provide harmony for the work, as seen with Golucho’s ‘retrato de insomnios’, 2006.
A red wall works incredibly well with Golucho’s retrato de insomnios mixed media piece . It enhances the 3D appearance of the head and the negative space within the drawing/painting, which is as important.
The works in Barcelona are shown in an icy cool tone of grey, which prompts the warmth of the slate, graphite colours seen within the work/s. The works seen on this particular wall, Golucho’s retrato de insomnios , the painting/ drawing identifies an insomnia state. The icy grey works with the sculptural element of the head; the subtlety of the wall colour proves to be effective only highlighting the lead weight of the head. The sculpture on the left hand a figure holding their arms out to embrace a hug, freedom or crucifixion, the effective ambiguity is set by the colour of the wall. Sadly I do not know the names of these sculptures. But if the sculpture on the left is of a crucifixion the work may have benefitted from a red wall just across from the work, on the left hand side so that the figure teeters between gestures. The two stone cold lovers embracing one another on the left, a red wall would have provided some warmth to their marble like bodies, or enhanced their cold embrace. Here the work blends into the icy grey as a unity of works, which ok effective in ‘slickness’, but the space doesn’t consider each individual artworks.
Kitaj Walter Lippmann, 1966
Although white walls are effective to showcase modern/contemporary art, the whiteness often embodies the label CONTEMPORARY. This whiteness has recently become grey, to devote significance to works of art that do deploy white as a colour, as a presence or absence as presence, within the work. These white spaces are as important within the artwork and can often to be lost to a white abode, that is the wall to which the image lies on. Unless the work conceptually involves white like Richard Tuttle who looks at the significance of a white space and white object, seen in 8th paper Octagonal, 1970.
Curators and artists are now starting to look at site and colour in relation to the work, opening the door to an actual room being part of the way we view the work, a great example being that of Maurizio Cattelan and Lucio Fontana “La Fine Di Dio” exhibition at Gagosian gallery, London. Whether the curator or the artist, or both. These two artworks alone needed the empty space. Just like poetry the space provides room, can be served as a metaphor in itself, this space leaves room for interpretation , room to be alone with yourself , the figure, the egg. In this respect the white is very sinister. What is the white? a space in which we are torn from the egg?
A figure moulded as a representational Hitler, Hitler known as one of the worst human beings to have ever lived, a mass murderer, a failed artist. An artist thats surrounded by nothing isn’t an artist at all. But the white isn’t nothing at all, questions whether we all have the potential to be inhumane artists. Or begs the question to whether the whiteness is ‘God’ and if God is all forgiving, can such acts be forgiven, can he pray for redemption. Or is he forever trapped like sisyphus, forever kneeling, forever praying. The gap between him and the egg static. Until the artist moves the puppet.
The way we view the work is just as important as the work. A past lecturer of mine Lee Hassall said to me whilst prepping a performance piece, ‘Everything matters’, this has always stuck with me. Walls are now in some cases becoming part of the the artwork, if not the platform in which we view paintings. White also means something.