Photographs: Paul Litherland
…if I must simplify shamelessly, it is as if there had been, for me, two paintings in painting. One, taking the breath away, a stranger to all discourse, doomed to the presumed mutism of “the thing itself”, restores, in authoritarian silence, an order of presence.
-Jacques Derrida The Truth in Painting
This project continues a programme of work that investigates the parameters of painting as a discursive practice. Traditionally painting has been considered to be a “dumb” medium. The strength in painting lies in its ability to relay visual information simultaneously and through silence. A painting is always fully present. This perpetual presence situates painting theoretically somewhere between a sculptural object and a formal system of abstraction that is akin to language. However, formal considerations inherent to painting are often considered antithetical to language as well as content, particularly in late modernism where the truth in painting was thought to lie solely in an investigation of the medium itself. Modernist painting referred mainly to its own structural interiority, purposely seeking to remain inside the picture frame. This series of paintings uses a formalist vocabulary to investigate notions of painting as a discursive, thinking medium. While qualities of muteness, presence, and immutability remain predominant in this body of work, these attributes are contextualized within a broader framework, emphasizing the secondary function of painting alluded to but not spoken of in the above quotation by Jacques Derrida. Painting, perhaps more than any other visual medium, has a historical contingency that is intrinsically tied to discourse.
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec.
© 1995 - 97 Loades