Idioms



These are the four idioms that exist at the foundation of my practice.

They are functional objects.

I use them to examine, explore, and evaluate my explorations.

They define the basis of my context and my area of exploration, and are the most succinct way I can describe my practice in four short sentences.


The Functional Object in Painting.

The Re-Presentation of Artefact.

The (Re)Signification of Value.

The Dialogue in Space.


They shift and change with my practice (a fifth is currently sitting just out of view). The following text equally shifts and changes. Flawed and functional. It sits in the same space as the artworks seen on this website. 


Not necessarily with them but adjacent. 


The Functional Object in Painting 


This idiom is a direction towards the objects within, and objectification of, painting. It was the first i was able to define, and remains the most important. It describes the foundational link between my practice and the object of painting, while hinting at the questioning at the heart of both practice and outputs. 


Running through the centre of my practice is a questioning of what happens when we apply the consideration of painting, as image and object, noun and verb, to other things. 

A push and pull with the object of painting. 


A conception of painting as (and with) subject and object. Inviting a re-consideration of the two, and their interdependence, allowing new conversations to take place.


Examining painting as both subject and object highlights the definitive nature of labels, and the ability of objects to be both.

An exploration of the material and metaphysical reality of painting. 

The polished and the hidden. 

The necessary and extravagant. 

The obvious and the overlooked. 

And so on, and so on. 


Painting is widely used as a representation of something else, a vehicle to explore a variety of subjects. Paintings are traditionally illusional. In most, we are not supposed to see the painting but through it. Through the study of the subject itself we are able to examine the way we look and its implications on the things we are looking at, an examination of both passive and active perception.

The objects I work with have an undeniable link to painting, and are here defined as painting. Using painterly language to speak about ideas that intersect the medium. 


I often work with objects that are not painted in the traditional sense, and yet when placed together, they become painting. 

It could be said that their existence as painting is fictional, metaphorical, or conceptual. Which is why I often describe them as conceptual paintings, or as a conception of painting.


A combination of materials that, through the spectator, form a definition. An implication of painting. 


It is a process of painting combined with its periphery. 


A paradox of painting and non-painting.


I have come to term these works as object-paintings. 


Objects are both medium and subject within my work. I draw and paint with objects. Objects that communicate with one another as well as us. 


I describe myself as an object-oriented practitioner, working with the objects of my practice. Objects have an agency, they have the power to exceed what we perceive, and discarded objects embody an identity, that is here presented in combination with human intention, investigating the way we interact with objects and the things that they can say. A collaboration between artist and object, where the artist isn’t necessarily me. 


The functional object is one that has a purpose, and thereby a value attached to it. 

 

I collect unwanted artworks, materials, and actions derived from the process of other artists. Using base materials that reveal their own history of interaction. 


In the conversation about these artworks the labour of the other artist is simultaneously superficial and identity-forming. A form of becoming through failure. These are commodities shaped by contact with creation. An embodied history of use, failure, and success. An implication of creativity. 


The function of these objects is in question through their use. A use that extends beyond their definition, expanding their potentiality, invoking their context. 


Asking us to judge again.


For example; Canvas is a recognisable base material in painting. The canvas is valuable for what it supports and allows. The things it allows artists to do. By using canvas as a more prominent material in painting we are asked to consider the sculptural and painterly reality of the object, and its position as art. 


These are materials, and actions used in the creation of art, commodities shaped by contact with creation. They embody the time they have been used, becoming records; objectifications of time. Echoes of process. A form of object memory. 

They are objects with a personal history, an implied narrative that has been interrupted and re-formed.

They are objects with individuality. 

Considering these objects through the lens of an artwork is a way of exploring the agency of objects and process. 

The re-presentation of the functional objects in painting, through a filter of aesthetic and material values, invokes a narrative that questions our perception of painting as object, action, and subject.


This relates to current philosophical lines of enquiry that aim to re-examine the subject:object dynamic. Exploring the unknowability of objects. Shifting our perception of them, and equalising our foundations. In particular; speculative realism and object oriented ontology. 


A short note on OOO and art


Object oriented ontology explores art as a language (or system of expressive signs) that presents ‘things’ in the act of executing themselves¹. Not in the sense that art is in possession of a secret knowledge of the inwardness of things but in the sense that art is made of things framed in such a way that they are more open to us. 


Art has a unique position when considering the dilemma of the thing-in-itself. (A matter of the unknowability of things.) 

When considering that reality in art comes from the spectator, in that there is no artwork without an audience to see it, a context to frame it, and an experience to embody it, it becomes clear that due to its position as Art the literal meaning of the artwork is the meaning as unfolded by the spectator. Therefore, it has the ability to be the thing-in-itself, or at least to get closer to it than we might in other areas of life. 


Exploring these philosophies highlights the inability of objects to experience each other, much as Melliasoux’s correlationism examines the idea that we can only ever access the correlation between knowing and being, so Harman suggests that this unknowability extends to the relationships between objects. 


Heidegger shows, in Harman’s words, that objects are far deeper than we realise. By viewing them, or even using them, we do not explore all they are. 


The perceptual and relational qualities of objects then become far more important in our interactions with them, and between each other. 


The Narrative of Perception


This idiom notes my interest in installation, and the composition of objects within a defined space. The ways they speak to each other, and the different conversations they have with the audience. Who can be considered the artworks ultimate frame. 


A narrative is an exchange. An exchange that occurs between objects, audience, and the space around them. 


Heavily symbolic, my works aim to inspire or invoke thoughts of other things. Each object chosen for its relevance to the narrative. 


Using simple objects to inspire or invoke more complex things shows the ability of the fragment to stand-in for the whole, at least in our minds. We can see more than what is shown to us. In this way it could be said that they are both objects, and object-like.


These are objects, and like-objects, that when added to each other, and to the space around them, form a new conversation.


The value of these objects, which as Art is defined by their physical and metaphysical placement, is more than the sum of their parts, more than their materiality, more than what we see. Their value has shifted.


By questioning the perception of value, through artistic consideration, the arbitrary nature of everyday value is brought into the conversation. 


The (Re)Signification of Value


This idiom is tied to the use of the unwanted and unconsidered, and the subsequent re-signification as valuable within the context of the artworld. 


There are important implications relating to capitalism and value here, but they are better described by the artworks. 

I will say that; Value is a definition, and through a shift in that definition the multiple nature of the object and our interactions with them come into the conversation. 


Art is a place where the multiple object is held in a form of suspension. A perceptual space where we can consider the image of the world as we experience it. 


My practice works with this shift in definition through the use of found materials, actions, and objects and a deeper examination of our assumptions, definitions, and the things we overlook. 


The cyclical nature of this methodology is a way of examining creation through the lens of use, failure, and rejection.


Which I see as; A representation of reality. Or a re-presentation of it. 


The Re-presentation of Artifact


Representation is defined as a description or portrayal. It is a word intrinsically linked to the art object. 

I use the term re-presentation to highlight the transformative action of the artist, presupposing and highlighting the existence of the original.

And again we find a link to the perceptual multiplicity of objects, and their unknowable self.


In a text from 1914 philosopher Jose Ortega² notes the similarity between artwork and metaphor, both of which approach the subject indirectly, and yet are ‘more profound and decisive than any mere representation’. ( 

Ortega suggests that the power of a metaphor, here synonymous with the artwork, is its ability to indirectly access more than we directly could. It is more, by being less. It is representation and non-representation. It is completed by the spectator, and therefore brings them into itself, and itself into them 

Through an indirect connection, that is completed by the spectator, it is more, by trying to be less. 


In my practice this can be seen in the possibility of painting as metaphor. Material paintings. Invoking the unknowable within the object of painting by examining it sideways, and presenting it as metaphor. Following this line of theory the audience has a more direct interaction with the object of painting, indirectly. 


The other term in this idiom is; Artefact. Which are objects that communicate, record and objectify. Through our perception of contextual value the artefact is shifted. 

Re-presenting artifacts is a way of juxtaposing intentional composition with incidental form. Equalising traditional hierarchies of art to allow new conditions to emerge. Resulting in sequences of actions that echo the relationship between painting and performance. 


Exploring the performativity of painting by focussing on the act of painting through its peripheral objects. More widely described as; an appreciation for the experiential qualities of creation and a questioning of intention vs process, in both creative and perceptual experiences. 


A collaboration between Objects, in which one of the objects is me. 



A nod to my statement and its words


Following these four idioms i can say that my work combines found objects, manipulated semiotics and painterly language to create artworks that aim to question our perceptions of the things we are looking at and the ways we are looking at them. Through a systematic unpicking and critique of the modern obsession with consumption and possession. 


Objects and assemblages combine objective observations of painting with its raw materials; a natural narrative that hovers between incident and expression. An examination of the unintentional to explore the agency of objects. 


Exploring the material reality of painting, as both subject and object, to invoke painting through visual metaphor. 


Representing the process of making, and re-presenting that process to the viewer; beginning new conversations between materials, subject and space. 


A note about the importance of words and doing


Words are important to my practice. I have an animated appreciation for language and the philosophical underpinnings of the practice are important to the creation of works,

but,

I am a maker at heart. 

I think and explore with objects. 


I have a practice-led approach that is systematic, reflective, and experimental. Some works are made in response to the materials (some donated and found), others are founded more wholy in the idea. I keep a repository of objects in the studio so that I can find the right material for the idea, which can sometimes take months of consideration. 


A focus of my practice is attention to aspects of process, in all its facets, that we might normally overlook in our aspirational focus on the artwork. 


It is a speculative process of challenging my own perceptions. Deconstructing things to be able to reconstruct them in unexpected ways. 



References mentioned


¹ Harman. G (2019) Art and Objects.

² Gasset. O (2014) An Essay in Esthetics by Way of Preface

² Gasset. O (1975) Phenomenology and Art, trans. by Philip W. Silver