Two Rooms presents an exhibition celebrating the power of a material once basic to the artist: paint. At times neglected in an era of video, installation and conceptual art, paint has not gone away. All the artists in this group have a strong engagement both with its physical properties and its transformative potential.
While surface is important, these artists engage in activities beyond mere application. Paint is poured, cast, carved, layered, pushed and squeezed. The inherent sculptural quality of the material blurs the distinction between two and three dimensions. Surface becomes mass. Mass subsides to surface. Ranging from minimalism to image-making, the works in this show push paint to new limits and they demonstrate its seductive and ever-changing expressive power.
Kevin Appel’s new paintings begin as a pristine, porcelain-coated canvas onto which enlarged photographs get mechanically printed in ultraviolet inks. The photographs depict abandoned buildings, piles of rubble and other broken-down bits of detritus that Appel has shot around the Salton Sea. In one sense, the ragged textures, fractured forms and splintered shapes of these contemporary ruins function like old-fashioned underpaintings, giving Appel the opportunity to paint subsequent layers whose nuance and richness build on what lies beneath them. But that’s not how the L.A. artist’s powerful paintings operate. Viciously unsentimental, each added layer obliterates what came before it. Rather than allowing for slow-brewed developments, gradual growth and additive details, Appel’s impatient paintings go for slam-bang transformations: all-or-nothing gambits with no middle ground and very little past residue. Despite being made with such low-tech materials as oil, acrylic and screen-printer’s ink, these ahead-of-the-curve canvases leave the subtle shifts of analogue reality in the Stone Age.
David Pagel, Los Angeles Times, Kevin Appel’s ‘Paintings’ pack punch at Susanne Vielmetter , 26 July 2012
Basil Beattie’spainting is from his Janus series shown at Two Rooms in 2008. These complex works are epic in scale and uncompromising in theuse of simple pictorial devices and subtly restrained colour. Poised in their potential readings of landscape vistas of horizon lines, train tracks or ploughed scrub fields and formal plays of line, space and recesses within the pictures’ surfaces; the meanings of these paintings reside ultimately in the physical reality of paint. Paint, in gobbets and drips that fall over the surface of the canvases, paint as articulate, eloquent graphic line, paint as mass and as absence.
Alexis Hardingplays with notions of alchemy, possibility, failure and time. His paintings are created by a combination of ill matched materials and chemical imbalance. Household paint tears and shrivels as it slithers across artist’s oil paint in a physical process where gravity and chance take over.
“ I use the ordinary language of abstraction and aim to fundamentally change it; to harness it and stretch it to breaking point. To do this I have had to change the way paint normally behaves and functions. The way I make the work is a combination of strategy and control and irrationality and abandonment. Pictorialism has been an unexpected residue of the very direct collision of materials I use to make these paintings. I want to manipulate the core ingredients of painting, their dumb attributes, through a type of subjective filter- to see an urban entropic image come out the other end”
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Noel Ivanoff’smonochromes are without narrative or meaning, but the thick edges of the paint pushed to the edge of their support contain the evidence and energy of their making. These are paintings primarily about the art of painting, about the materiality of the paint and the support he uses. In these works the artist has applied vertical stripes of paint onto an impermeable aluminium surface, which doesn’t allow the paint to be absorbed. The luminous colour glistens on the surface to create a seductive veneer.
Jeena Shin uses subtle variances of density and tone of paint in order to fragment a surface. Intersecting planes are built up by layering the paint, creating meticulous compositions exploiting light and shadow. Shin’s new paintings are two toned; dark and light contrast to emphasise cascading prisms. The works play with the way we perceive background /foreground and inside/outside and have the ability to create a strong afterimage. These new works are also concerned with the sculptural form and seem to have derived from the large-scale wall drawings where the unfolding triangular shapes echo the architecture of the spaces she has transformed.
Obsessed with the physicality of paint, artist Rohan Wealleans explores always in his work the possibilities of the material. Layer upon layer of bright acrylic house paint is built up on canvas or objects. Layering takes time, a coat per day, of which there may be hundreds. These heavy layers of paint are then sliced and gouged away into intricate patterns and shapes with a Stanley knife, to expose the fleshy underbelly.
The work morphs between painting and sculpture – the paintings are sculptural and the sculptures are painterly with their visceral and fantastical accretion of lurid colour and texture.