signatures/thoughts

 My two most recent projects, signatures and thoughts, push the boundaries of what constitutes a sculpture or drawing. This has always been a concern for me but this project is taking things in new directions. The signatures use folded paper, the edges butting up one to the other as in the gutter of a book. In them an ink image projects a landscape-space that vies with the sculptural form of the folded papers. thoughts, a series of small porcelain pieces, reverse the project as light transmitted through the thin porcelain lights up surfaces and radiates along the edges of gaps in the forms letting the edges become lines as in a drawing.

In the signatures series it is the nature of the book as a form and as an object that intrigues me: the intimacy of our physical relation to it and its object nature wed to space and time. In this group of works I use the format of a signature, the drawn object spanning one page to the next. The movement from page to page proposes the element of time into the viewing of a single object, allowing us to understand a small drawing through time in a way similar to how we experience a thing or an object as it sits in space. The loft of the page gives a breath to the form suggesting movement from side to side to create an inside as well as an outside, which confirms the work’s association with the world of objects.

While the works on paper presented here reiterate the rectangular shape of the support, I want to make that rectangularity neutral--a ground against which to see irregularities, which become pictorial. In making the images, I use layers of ink that responds to the particulars of the paper surfaces. Rather than making a mark with a drawing implement, I pool the ink on the paper with Chinese brushes, filling the brush and then releasing it onto the surface of the paper. Once pooled, I move the ink rather than drawing it about the paper. The absorption rates varying across the image. Each of the inks I am using is made from galls sourced from Hampstead Heath, so each oxidizes to different degrees and at different rates. What I am attempting to achieve is a sense of space within the shape of the dense image. I am not interested in these spaces as literal representations as much as I am in letting them produce a tension between the allusion to the fluid atmospheric effects of a landscape space, on one hand, and to the mark-making action of fluid ink on absorbent paper, on the other. A small patch of reserved support is a brilliant light and a gap in the quasi-rectangular shape, something outside the pictorial space altogether. So these irregularities are dramatic pictorial elements and gaps in the image, deep within the pictured space and bounding the inky shape on the paper's surface.

 The parallel series, thoughts, uses porcelain that is pinched and pulled to arrive at as thin a wall as is structurally possible, forming slight enclosures by draping it over supports until dry. Once hardened I continue to wear away at the porcelain with files and sandpaper at times wearing completely through the wall to create a gap. The walls become so thin elsewhere that light shines through, the translucent quality reminiscent of the subtle layers of pooled ink on the paper surfaces of the signatures.

 It is not so important that these spaces—the ones created by the ink of the signatures or the tonal planes and lines of the thoughts—be identified as much as it is that they be understood to be simply what they are, marks and material on a paper or on a shelf that create a moment for us to fall into. They reward attention to their materiality and do not purport to be more than what they offer physically. Yet, what is crucial is the spaces—more or less plainly pictorial—that both series open up, up close, and within that materiality.

 

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