abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘monochrome painting

Gesso and acrylic paint on nothing! Deb Covell’s new painting at OBJECT / A

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The exhibition Here and Now, recently on show at OBJECT / A, Manchester, UK, featured just the one artwork, a wonderful painting entitled Present (2016) by Deb Covell, a painted black square, without a support, gesso and acrylic on nothing, suspended from the ceiling by wire.

Deb Covell, Present, 2016, gesso and acrylic, 140 x 140 cm. Image by courtesy of the artist

Deb Covell, Present, 2016, gesso and acrylic, 140 x 140 cm. Image by courtesy of the artist


Read my review of it here at the Saturation Point website.


The Monochrome

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No connection to that famous blue monochrome was intended…

…yet when you paint a monochrome you just cannot not connect to the whole tradition of monochrome paintings. I know this is also true of other types of art but I feel that it is especially true of the monochrome. And one of the truly amazing things about it, for me, is just how rich a tradition it is. You might think that once it’s been done its over with, and one of the “meanings” of the monochrome is surely “the death of painting” yet rather than ending it all, not only new paintings but new monochromes get made, and I continue to make them.

I have been painting monochromes, on and off, for over 30 years. When I first started to make them, as an art student, the internal tutors at Trent used to say that it was the kind of work they would expect from an old man. Well, now I am much older I feel I have earned the right to make as many as I want!

By the way, they play havoc with my camera’s automatic focus!

Written by Andy Parkinson

June 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

the monochrome as system

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I am enjoying the book Monochromes, from malevich to the present, by barbara rose


created and edited by Valeria Varas and Raul Rispa, first published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name organised by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid 2004.

I tend to feel dubious about a book that starts out with the words “this book takes an innovative organizational approach”. If it’s that innovative surely they don’t need to tell me. Although they make the mistake of bringing my attention to it, it is innovative; it is organised so that it interconnects, like a system.

One organising principle is the use of colours as theme, black, red, blue, gold and white. I like that the cover is reminiscent of Yves Klein’s famous International Klein Blue.

Barbara Rose credits Klein with the discovery of the power of the monochrome to displace attention from the art object to the exhibition space, emphasising the interdependence of artwork and context. This is one of the ways in which the monochrome could be thought of as systemic. Also, artists who make or have made them often employ a systems approach to producing the work.

Many years ago, for possibly a whole year (and painting every day) I painted little else but monochromes. I was young, and some people would criticise me for ‘painting like an old man’ (“this is the kind of painting I would expect someone to do at the end of their artistic career “).

Way back then, I thought I was making ‘content free’ paintings. What became interesting in the long series of monochromes were the subtle differences between each one. The paintings were best seen together (as a system) and those subtle differences started to look less and less subtle after all. The patterns that connected them were as much to do with the differences as they were the similarities. I got into the habit of always showing them in pairs, I can’t believe now that I had overlooked the autobiographical content: being an identical twin myself, I experienced first hand that what becomes more interesting than the similarities between twins are the differences, much more easily noticed when they are together than when they are apart.

Written by Andy Parkinson

July 21, 2011 at 7:44 am