yes/no: A CBP virtual open studio

A Contemporary British Painting virtual open studio

I am pleased to be part of this virtual open studio curated by Deb Covell, Paula MacArthur and Judith Tucker, built by Isaac Ashby.

Visit the virtual open studio on the CBP website where you can also download a catalogue.

Visit the virtual open studio on the CBP website where you can also download a catalogue.

“Welcome to our impossible open studio, 32 painters from around the UK virtually come together for the first time in a labyrinthine studio complex – come in and explore … experiencing a painter’s studio might usually be a physical and messy experience so this time why not enjoy floating through what is a blend of video game and virtual show?  In each studio space you’re given a yes/no choice of two further doors to step through, but it’s an open studio in more ways than one – so you’d better check the weather forecast, you may need an umbrella and please wash your hands before entering.

32 selected painters from Contemporary British Painting have own their space in this virtual studio and you can explore their work in progress and working environment. The show considers unresolved, unfinished or recalcitrant works, paintings which still ask questions of their makers, these works have not yet answered Yes or No but still say Maybe. The title of the show is taken from Gerhard Richter’s reference to his working process as a series of Yes/ No decisions with a final Yes to end it all. The work included focuses on the kind of decisions that all painters undertake when embarking on a painting, from the initial idea stage to the resolved and exhibited work, you will see revealed some of the uncertain moments that paintings go through, an insight into the layered time consuming process that so often lies hidden underneath that final Yes decision. The works bring painting as thought to the fore. Whatever idiom these painters use, they have all taken a risk, they have chosen to place an uncertain work into the public domain, paintings which are in-between, still open ended and fluid with that unpredictable final Yes still to come.”

My accompanying text:
In 2015 I began working on a series of small paintings called ‘The Sum of the Parts’. This project was based on ‘selfies’ that I used as the source material for the paintings. The idea was that I would produce two (almost) identical ‘twin’ paintings: one would go back to the subject who provided the photo (as a gift and a thank you) and one would stay in my collection to make a larger painting installation. This project in itself was never fully realised, and therefore, has never been exhibited in its true and intended form. Like so many of the series of paintings I produce I may well return to it sometime in the future.

The two paintings submitted ‘Untitled (portrait of a girl emerging)’ and ‘Untitled (portrait of a girl disappearing)’ have been hanging on my studio wall for about the last 3 years! They are both based on one of the original ‘Sum of the Parts’ images. These two paintings, one on canvas and the other on very smooth panel, were made purely for experimental reasons. Both paintings are monochrome, but the first is painted in acrylic and the other in oil. I do not normally use acrylic paint, although I do wish it was something I could master. Here I wanted to try acrylic once again and then use acrylic glazes – which as I suspected dried far too quickly for my liking. With the second oil painting I wanted to build up layers of white glazes over a monochrome portrait to see how far I could push the gradual elimination of the rendered image, before it completely disappears.

I have never considered these paintings as finished. I think this is mainly because they were used as experiments and didn’t have the usual concept or idea behind them that most of my work has. The idea was really embedded in the application of the paint itself. Of course there is nothing wrong with this, it’s just not normally the way I approach painting.

Having never envisaged these paintings as complete I have often thought of doing something else to them, whether this is the introduction of coloured glazes or, perhaps, painting the edges in fluorescent pink? However, I always felt that this would be contrived and mean I was ‘forcing’ something. They are what they are and remain in limbo on my studio wall – too intriguing for me to throw away, but, incomplete in my mind, incomplete enough to not know what to do with them. Hence they have remained on the studio wall.

My question would be: ‘What does an artist do with ‘limbo’ paintings that they do not wish to destroy, yet equally unsure about whether they should ever be viewed? Should they be exhibited as studies or should they be confined to the studio wall forever? 

Visit the virtual open studio on the CBP website where you can also download a catalogue.