Summative Assessment (Artist Statement)

Documentation:

Larger Outcome: Bleached Canvas Strips

Knotted Fabric Outcome

Exhibition – Jacobs Market

Planning Final Outcome

Final Outcome: Construction & Display

 

Contextual:

Minimalism and ‘Beauty’

Robert Ryman & Angus Martin

Robert Morris & Eva Hesse

Exhibition: Disobedient Bodies – JW Anderson

Final Outcome: Ideas

 

 

Artist Statement:

Inspired by the aesthetic qualities of 1960’s New York Minimalism, I have been exploring non-representational repetitive pattern. Unlike Abstraction, Minimalism does not attempt to represent an outside reality, but instead focuses on medium and form, evoking an appreciation for the object itself, not what it represents. Within Minimalism I refined my interests to ‘non-industrial’ materials, choosing to work primarily in textiles. I have endeavoured to utilize the qualities of fabric, exaggerating, creases, textures and fraying. More recently I have made sculptural forms, choosing to cut, rip, drape, fold, and knot the fabric, to create objects rather than surfaces.

Scale and orientation significantly affects the perception of objects; it brings authority to the otherwise mundane. I wanted to occupy the space with a form that was accessible, but with repetitive construction, making use of the effect of gravity on the hanging to enhance the sense of scale. The purpose is to trigger a mental response in the viewer.

This final outcome blends together aspects from four key artists. Robert Ryman, known for his purely white paintings, influenced my colour choice. Agnus Martin’s delicately precise grids, inspired my use of fine muslin. I have imagined my grid as a kind of three dimensional, textile version of one of Martin’s works, bringing order to a pliable material. Robert Morris and his draping felt works informed the hanging of my work. Eva Hesse’s relationship between ugliness and beauty prompted my decision to combine the order of the grid, with the raw edges of the ripped fabric.  The grid was a prominent form within Minimalism, by employing it, within the context of these four artists, I intend that my outcome will be perceived as fitting comfortably alongside the work by which it was inspired.

 

Field:

Field: Final Reflection

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Final Outcome: Ideas

Throughout the year, I have constantly focused on pattern, however my work before and after Christmas was quite different. Having been inspired by a more abstract experimental way of working during my second Field group ‘Athletes of the Heart’, I chose to abandon pictorial pattern, for non-representational pattern and repetition.

My final outcome consists of roughly 23 meters of white muslin, ripped into strips and knotted together to form a net-like grid. This grid harks back to the aesthetic qualities of 1960’s minimalism, focusing on process, materials, form, viewer interpretation and integration with the space. I hope that this work might be regarded as fitting comfortably alongside the minimalist works by which it was inspired.

funnelI would describe the development and refinement of ideas towards my final outcome in the form of a funnel. Starting with Abstraction, I refined my interests to Minimalism, them more specifically ‘pliable’/non-industrial materials, which led me to four key artists which have directly influenced and inspired my final outcome: Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, Robert Morris and Eva Hesse.

Furthermore, my final outcome has been inspired by the grid, a prominent form in New York Minimalism.

‘…Agnes Martin was bringing back the grid with a vengeance […] the grid was one of the principal formats of Minimalist painting and sculpture alike, utilized in very different ways by, among numerous others, Robert Ryman, Eva Hesse, Carl Andre, and Sol LeWitt. […] Martin and others were attracted to the grid for its rigid, all-over regularizing…’ (p.92)

Strickland, E. (1993). Minimalism:Origins. American University Press.

The grid is a form of repetitive pattern, a network of lines crossing each other to create a uniform mesh. As you can see in the above quote, three of my four artists have been described as utilizing the grid – only Robert Ryman is not mentioned, but he has in fact incorporated them into his works. By employing a grid, in the context of these four artists, I hope to further hark back to works which were created in New York at that time. This creates a dialogue between these artists within my final outcome.

Agnes Martin’s work displays delicacy, lightness, and precision. I have endeavoured to emulate these qualities. Her grids have been described as, ‘half-way between a rectangular system of coordinates and a veil…’ I have imagined my grid as a kind of three dimensional, textile version of one of Martin’s works, bringing order to a pliable material. My choice of muslin as the medium of my piece was due to its delicacy. Muslin is finely open-woven, making it almost sheer. The beauty in this fabric is its lightness and fluidity, collapsing under its own weight in soft folds and creases.

Robert Ryman’s choice and use of colour, alongside his fixation to explore the qualities of his materials, has also informed my final fabric choice. White allows for more discernable tones and shadows on its surface, but will also make the muslin appear at one with its gallery surrounding, casting shadows on the wall behind.

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Robert Morris inspired my use of textiles, and the way I have hung my final outcome, allowing the fabric to drape, emphasizing the natural weight of the knotted muslin to form a soft gentle curve. The scale of Morris’s felt works is significant to how it is perceived. Scale and orientation, brings authority to the otherwise mundane.

Eva Hesse, has influenced the display of my outcome, considering the integration of my work with the space. In addition, I wanted to play with the relationship between precision and imperfection. Inspired by Hesse I have not overworked the muslin, retaining its raw ripped edges and loose threads.

A common feature of all four artists is repetition; the repeating of shapes, processes and materials. I wanted the construction of my final outcome to involve a repetitive process, a process which would be discernable by the viewer. I chose to continue my use of knots established in my previous outcome. Knots are a form of fastening, a method of joining the fabric without any additional, external materials. The knots form the corners of each square, their rounded shape and natural contortion of the material create pleasing shapes and folds throughout the piece.

Robert Ryman & Agnus Martin

Robert Ryman:

Interested in the nature of painting itself, Ryman is known for his monochromatic, white-on-white works, exploring surface, support, medium, placement before viewer, and colour. He chooses each aspect of his works carefully; he considers the size and shape of each brush and the mark it will make, the thickness of a stretcher, and each fixture used to hang the work.

Although considered a painter, could Ryman’s attention to the fixtures used to hang his works, turn them from being painted surfaces, into sculptural forms, therefore becoming objects?

Each alteration he makes is an exploration, believing that painting constantly needs to be changed and experimented with. This has resulted in almost a fixation with exploring ‘whiteness’; he has repeated a very similar set of aesthetics many, many times.

 

Agnes Martin:

Martin became known for her square canvasses, meticulously rendered grids and repeat stripes. Martin thought of her works as studies in the pursuit of perfection. She believed that spiritual inspiration and not intellect created great work. She said, ‘Without awareness of beauty, innocence and happiness one cannot make works of art’. Her works are all about experience, on the part of both the artist and the observer.

Martin’s works have a kind of fragility: the tough fragility of an egg shell. Although made with strict precision, usually of parallel lines or short dashes, perfectly spaced to form a regular pattern, each work is unique and distinct. Martin’s Lines often come together to form delicate grids. English art critic Lawrence Alloway found Martin’s grids,

half-way between a rectangular system of coordinates and a veil… Martin’s seamless surface signifies, for all its linear precision, an image dissolving. The uninflected radiant fields are without the formal priorities of figure and field or hierarchic ranking of forms, and the skinny grids are set in monochrome colours that make visible the shifting gradients of real light across the painting. The effect is of precision and elusiveness at once.” (pp.94-95)

Strickland, E. (1993). Minimalism:Origins. American University Press.

The repetitive lines and square form of these works remind me of my final pieces from last year. I focused on the lines/creases made by scrunching paper. I scrunched 100 pieces of paper, and drew over one of the creases which crossed the paper from top to bottom. Then transferred and enlarged those lines, layering them to create another drawing showing the relationship between random creases. The scrunching was a way for me to separate myself from the drawing process.

 

 Reflection:

I have linked Ryman and Martin together due to their similar aesthetic qualities. But although both Ryman and Martin’s works can be simply identified as pale two dimensional squares, their intentions are quite different. I can recognise within my longing to explore textiles, Ryman’s obsession with his chosen material. Ryman’s use of white allows for more discernable tones and shadows on his textured surfaces. Moving forwards, I will explore Ryman’s choice of color. It is Martin’s precision and delicacy, in the constructs her grids, which I find beautiful. They are exquisitely formed repetitive patterns – could such precision be achieved, in the construction of a textile object?

 

Minimalism and ‘Beauty’

My primary influence, throughout Subject, has been the works of minimalist artists during the 1960’s. Minimalism is an extreme form of abstraction. However, unlike traditional abstract art which usually represents an aspect of the real world (a physical thing) or an experience (emotion or feeling), Minimalism does not attempt to represent an outside reality. Often focus is placed on the work itself, and how the viewer responds to what is directly in front of them: the medium and form of the work.

Minimalist Painter Frank Stella once said:

My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there. It really is an object.’ […] When the surface of the painting is looked at. It is just that: a surface. Not a metaphor of a body or a space within the picture, but an object within a world of other objects. ‘What you see is what you see.’  (p.16)

Batchelor, D. (1997) Minimalism (movements in modern art). Millbank, London: Tate Gallery Pub.

It was the aesthetic qualities of Minimalism which interested me. Minimalism is often defined by its use of industrial materials, such as Donald Judd’s ‘stack’ works, but this is not to what I am referring. Although these works are pleasing to the eye, I am more greatly drawn to works which are formed from more pliable materials, such as textiles and paint, due to their textural qualities and interaction with external forces (gravity), resulting in subtle marks and patterns which are unique to the piece.

‘Beauty’ or ‘visual appeal’ has played a large part in why I began researching Minimalism. Author James Kirwan wrote in his book ‘Beauty’,

“For what I am concerned with is not the objective qualities of the beautiful, but rather the dynamics of the event of beauty, the perception of beauty, that is, the mental state which issues in the feeling that a thing is beautiful.” (p.4) 

When I regard Minimalist works beautiful, I am not implying that others should also think it beautiful. I merely hope that beauty as a sensation is understood, that the beauty I have seen can be recognised and appreciated.

Exhibition: Disobedient Bodies – JW Anderson

Disobedient Bodies curated by Jonathan Anderson at the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield.

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Anderson is a contemporary fashion designer,who explores the human form in art, fashion and design. He has constructed this exhibition, combining figurative sculptures by artists including Jean Arp, Louise Bourgeois, Lynn Chadwick, Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Sarah Lucas, Henry Moore, Magali Reus and Dorothea Tanning alongside fashion pieces by designers such as Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garçons, Helmut Lang and Issey Miyake.

Anderson had the flowing to say, ‘This exhibition is not dictating to you, it is asking you questions. It is more about how you emotionally feel about looking at two things, beside each other.’ He continues, enthusing about the ‘dialogue’ between works, which don’t usually interact, and further more the subjective interpretation of that relationship by individuals.

In my opinion Anderson succeeded in constructing a visually intriguing environment. The exhibition space itself become an installation, with tall curtains forming mini pods within the space, allowing you to peer around corners and uncover the next interaction between works. Although containing primarily fashion pieces, the show gave me new perspective for what ‘clothing’ can be. Wareability was obviously not the primary concern, instead the ordinary was contorted to form completely impractical fashion sculptures, which questioned norms.

 

The most pertinent work/display for me was ’28 Jumpers’ by JW Anderson himself. As the name suggests the work was a collection of jumpers, however all were extensively elongated and suspended from the ceiling, crating a ‘forest of varying knit patterns and colours. ‘Anderson wanted to create a tactile experience, highlighting the importance of touch in understanding object.’

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Angela Bulloch

Angela Bulloch’s work takes many forms, but all manifest her interest in systems, patterns and rules, and the creative territory between mathematics and aesthetics.

‘Pixel Boxes’ have become her most familiar component: fabricated modular systems, primarily cubes, with plastic front screens that softly change and pulse between colors. These programmable illuminated boxes contain three fluorescent tubes capable of creating all 16 million colors of a standard computer screen.  Bulloch has insisted that she is not interested in technology for its own sake, but rather the ways in which people ‘interface’ with it and ‘what psychological effect this has’ (Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.34).

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Many of Bulloch’s works are interactive in the sense that her patterns are controlled by the noises surrounding the works, such as visitors walking and talking.

‘The viewer is a collaborator in the sense that she defines, perceives the meaning in her own terms. This would happen anyway with any work, provided there is a viewer. What I try to do is make the fact of interpretation, understanding or perceiving part of purpose of the work itself.’

(Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.31.)

Bulloch also makes ‘Drawing Machines’, which produce vertical or horizontal lines directly on the gallery wall.  In this case, the lines drawn change rhythm according to sounds produced by visitors.589.0

In Bulloch’s interactive works, pattern is to an extent unpredictable, ultimately determined by the random actions of visitors, who themselves have no choice but to ‘interact’ with the work.

‘one’s individual choices are more or less meaningless, because the system or structure has already defined the parameters of choice, even if they seem elective … The viewer is already framed within the work, whether one likes it or not’

(Bulloch in Bussel 1997, p.31).

Patterns and sequences can obviously be identified as a key part of these works, just by viewing the work itself, without any external information. The works speak for themselves.

Plastic-Three-Sphere-Cube-Triangle-RYB-close-upWest Ham - Sculpture for Football Songs 1998 by Angela Bulloch born 1966