Two Rooms presents the first in an annual series of painting exhibitions. The artists on display here use systems, rules, historical reference and a ritualistic engagement in the process of painting in order to emphasise its materiality. Surface is what matters.
The protagonists are three artists from the UK, Basil Beattie, Jane Harris and Alexis Harding; three artists from New Zealand, Bill Riley, Luise Fong and Murray Green joining Marcia Hafif, from New York. Marcia Hafif, whose work is pivotal to this exhibition, has for nearly forty years been concerned with the possibilities of monochrome painting. She has produced a meticulous inventory of types of paints and supports used throughout the history of painting and her pioneering work with colour and the use of hand ground pigments has set the standard for many painters.
It would seem the great challenge to painting in 2007 is its long tradition. What can we paint now? Two Rooms prefers not What but more How to paint, with these seven painters concerned purely with the material and physical nature of a painting. However this is not exactly back to the basics of application and materials. Paint is not the inert substance it appears to be and can take on a life of its own despite the use of preordained rules. There is agreatdealofplayandperformancegoingonhere. Spots,drips,pours,stripes,grids, patterns, leaks, skins, blobs, tangles, accidents, hand gestures, and brush marks are all the order of the day. And as for the materials there is aluminium, wood, canvas, resin, wax, paint, gesso, pigment, carborundum, perspex, acrylic, fabric and wallpaper. The inventory is forever expanding; stretchers are made from the traditional wood, aluminium, and even no stretcher at all. At times the paint seems barely attached to the support. However despite all best efforts to concentrate on painting as a material fact the resulting works demonstrate that paint can be humorous, emotional, intellectual and very alive.