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On a move by move basis.

24th October 2020

I am currently working colour, soaking in colour, with a yellow, a blue and a violet, combinations of these, alongside black, white and buff have become a palette I could well get lost in for years to come. But I know that I will soon be making some black drawings. The desire for them creeps into my thinking and then the need for them; the need for me to to be in that place becomes insistent. I have several groups of black drawings that I have made from the last eight years, I refer to them often and their role is essentially connective.

The brightly lit paintings of the last 6 months have been centre stage in my activity and now I want to exit left for a moment and look at things from the dimly lit wings; to do some backstage meandering.

I made a series of drawings in 2015 titled, ‘A proposal’, made with a brush stroke rhythmically running around the perimeter of thirty sheets of A3 paper, it was mounted on a dark wall between two spaces at our then studio, for my show Skip Dance . I wasn’t really sure what was going on with the why of them, only that they were significant. One thing I did know was that they were backstage works, corridor works… bridging works. A holding space for future works. The action of both making them and reading them seemed to hold the potential to be instructive or instigative.

The practice of building and unravelling a visual lexicon are my studio preoccupation, through making groups of paintings and drawings.

I’ve been thinking about the work of Terry Winters over the last few weeks at the studio table, remembering particularly two concurrent shows I visited in New York in 2018. Facts and Fictions at The Drawing Centre and Twelve Paintings at Matthew Marks Gallery. Winters investigates and reworks motifs through drawings and into paintings from his research into scientific diagrams and ideas, and nature. He builds his own visual vocabulary to make sense of how things are constructed and understood. At The Drawing Centre show ‘graphs, networks, and knots describe complex encounters between biological drives, technological systems, and mental processes.’ Winters says,’ “One takes information from the world and out of it creates another possible world.”

I love to wander in a world like this, amongst mostly monochrome drawings on walls and in vitrines, the density of invention, of potential direction is deeply exciting.

Terry Winters, Facts and Fictions, Drawing Center, New York, Jan 31–Apr 28, 2019

Winters works on his richly chromatic paintings in the same way he makes his drawings, reworking motifs and improvising, he describes his approach as

'… really much more intuitive, felt, exploration of things using a kind of logic of sense to find my way through to a pictorial solution. I think in some sense the pictures are a temporal architecture, they are record of their making, tracking the course of the images development and it’s through that process of developing the images that I’m finding or trying to locate possible meaning within the imagery.

Terry Winters, Twelve Paintings, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, May 3 - June 16th, 2018

In the exhibition catalogue essay Facts and Fictions, Claire Gilman describes Winter’s drawings as ‘visualising the project of sensemaking’. Gilman points to Winter’s appreciation for how the writer WG Sebald weaves fact and fiction through incorporating photographs alongside his text, ‘ that hybrid is something I want for my paintings, says Winters, using abstraction to make images that are factual and specific and at the same time fictive, almost mythological.’

The combining and re-arranging of non-euclidian geometric moves, patterning, story arcs and places, timing and pitch are my facts and fictions. A never ending source and framework for me to plot and to explore.

Terry Winters advises, Painting is a game; play with purpose.

To play a game or to paint a picture is to answer a question with a question, on a move by move basis.‘

Wandering these studio corridors is necessary and can take up much of the game. Travelling across the grid, from the library to the dining room on a Cluedo board for example. The rooms hold clues to the solution and are the places to ask questions and make the declarations but it is the corridors that get you to the action and to the resulting revelations.

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