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Title: Stationery (The Lexicon) (2013-2017)

Installation notes

This work comprises:

1. 10+ paintings, placed singularly or in groups of 2 or 3, on the walls of a modest sized room. Positioned lower than the conventional sightline.
(Materials: oil paint on primed paper, brown gum tape, seized mdf board. Floating panel fixed to the wall using wood split baton. Dimensions of each panel: 76 x 63 x 3 cm.)

2. 'Stationery Notebook', digitally transcribed A4 notebook. Located with other reading material present in the exhibition space.
(Dark Blue binding, light blue card cover, white paper, courier typeface. Dimensions: A4, 29.7 x 21 x 1 cm.)

3. Notebook page, scaled up and situated on a wall proximal to the paintings.
(Material: white paper, black courier typeface. Dimensions: 300 x 200 cm.)

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Background

Paper is wetted, stretched on the seized mdf board, secured with brown gum tape and primed. A central area masked off. Oil paint is mixed with glaze medium, and a single 80cm synthetic flat brush is used, first to make a series of vertical ‘stripes’ of paint across the primed area, then a single gesture is made without lifting the brush from the surface, after which the brush is passed horizontally across the surface, top to bottom, to obliterate the gesture. The process is then repeated rhythmically, paint drawn down the surface vertically, the making of a single gesture, then obliteration. The paint is used and re-used, it is not removed. This act of labour may continue for a number of hours. ‘Time’ is called when a certain combination of gesture and surface is materialised, that is particular and has a sense of self-sufficiency. The masking tape is then removed and in doing so ‘notches’ of white primer are removed also.

The notebook is made in parallel with the making of the paintings panels and describes the movement between material of paint and the activity of painting and the describing, thinking and reflection on this activity. The notebook is transcribed from handwritten to digital, as exactly as possible, using Word, a courier typeface and Word 'drawing' tools. A process of ‘re-drawing’, each page being closer to image than text and a movement back towards the material of the painting.

W.J.T. Mitchel writes that ekphrasis is the verbal representation of visual representation and gives as examples the 'Shield of Achilles' in Homer's 'The Iliad', or 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' by John Keats. I wanted to think about a possible fluidity between the paint gesture and a written character. WJT Michel argues that there is no essential difference between the text and images – language can stand in for depiction and depiction can stand in for language – language is not medium specific.

Ekphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device, in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form. Usually one thinks of the medium of speech or writing trying to make a verbal representation of an art form. I am using the language of paint to try and explore the fluidity that exists between the paint gesture as inscription and a written character. These gestures are almost reprographic, mechanical, made out of a long process of repetition. Each episode or gesture made and wiped out before another gesture is made. The rule - the gesture must be made in one movement. Once the brush touches down it can not leave the surface until the gesture ends.

I think about the artist Susan Hiller's work on psychic automation where she talks of the handwriting appearing as the subversion of self, the inscriptions an endless play of enactments of multiple selves.