The practice of painting has shown extraordinary stamina when under duress. Declared dead and buried numerous times since the creation of the first daguerreotype in the early nineteenth century, it has been assaulted, questioned as a belief system and even had its reverence mocked by artists such as Martin Kippenberger. Yet still it remains, adorned with mystical qualities and notably commanding great market value despite the financial entropy that has ensued since 2008. Painting today has been described as ‘beside itself’ by David Joselit – no longer a medium limited to a set of stretcher bars hung on a wall it now focuses upon being something more than a stationary, finished, two-dimensional work of art, it exists within ‘an expanded field’, it accentuates the methods of its own dissemination and the very materials that it is constructed from. Painting in time is a fervent study of the new and subverting practices within the contemporary discipline, and wholeheartedly celebrates the loss of painting’s former ‘integrity’.
Natasha Kidd has white emulsion sporadically pumped onto her canvases through a series of pipes; as the paint flows off the canvas it dries on the floor before gallery attendants release more wet paint through the pumps. There is a Yoko Ono toilet and tank, which allows the viewer to hammer nails into it. Polly Apfelbaum exhibits her work (piles of pigment and glitter on little plasticine bases) on long trestle tables and the viewer triggers them off by walking around the tables whilst viewing the work from different positions.
Claire Ashley’s inflatable painting inflates and deflates every fifty minutes and her humorous film ‘Ruddy Udder Dance’ shows dancers inside another inflatable work performing a choreographed dance sequence. In Hayley Tompkins’ ‘Digital Light Pool’, acrylic paint is poured into plastic trays and the work is created as the paint dries. A series of images are placed next to the drying trays in order to juxtapose the states of alteration and stillness. Kate Hawkins allows spectators to view her paintings as three-dimensional works; by attaching them to the gallery walls with hinges, she allows viewers to move the paintings, even standing some on legs and placing one work in the gallery fireplace.
By exploring the notions of temporality, spectator/gallery participation, process as well as product, performance and theatricality, Painting in Time provides a bold and eclectic study of the contemporary hybrid practices of the once esteemed medium. It revels in the idea of a painting no longer being a static object and in the notion that painting is firmly established as a ‘time based medium’, or rather that a certain style of painting is.
Painting in Time continues at The Tetley until 5 July.
Image: Claire Ashley, Another Tasteless Hunk, 2013 Image: Courtesy The Tetley, Leeds.
Paul Bramley is a Painter, Art Writer and Curator based in York.