About “About Painting”
The exhibitions Working Against the System and Fade Away that were held at Transition Gallery and Gallery North were the occasion for a small publication (158 pages with nice photos) about contemporary painting called About Painting.
The book has essays by Barry Schwarbsky and the curators of the respective shows – Helen Baker and Alli Sharma, information and images from all the artists who participated in the two shows, in-depth texts by the Working Against the System artists, transcripts from the Working Against the System symposium and studio interviews with Fade Away artists Phillip Allen, Paul Housley, Jo Wilmot, Claire Undy and Phoebe Unwin.
I got my copy this week and I am enjoying it lots. The images are small but study-able, and seeing them here I want to see them for real.
I like the short essay by Barry Shwarbsky about the reconfiguring of the distinction between abstraction and representation (or, as he prefers it, between abstraction and images) and find a lot of resonance with it. In Alli Sharma’s interview with Phoebe Unwin she asks about abstraction and image, working methods and materials as well as about the painting Sponge Pallette that was shown in the Fade Away exhibition. And there is a fascinating piece by Paul Goodfellow about systems thinking and painting, suggesting that painting is the perfect laboratory for thinking about the issue of what happens in the border area between a well-defined system and its transgression. He argues that it is the responsibility of the artist to embrace systems thinking in order to highlight its own limitations. The description of Sly Lost Games (and the system outputs exhibited) gives just enough information to imagine what was there, and whet my appetite for more. Again, wanting to see it ‘for real’
The book is a joy for having no list of contents and being rather haphazardly arranged. Finding my way round it is a bit like negotiating a path through an exhibition, or rather two exhibitions, both that I would have liked to have seen.