Painting

Research - Amikam Toren by Ally McGinn

Toren first worked as a stage designer before moving to London in 1968, moving to art after receiving a grant to study at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Some of the departments within the company seemed ridiculous to the Israeli born artist. (Baker, 2013)

Toren is drawn to conceptual art but felt that he wanted to create something that could be touched, something I can relate to in many ways. (Baker, 2013)

He created a series of large-scale paintings, each containing an abstracted letter formed with paint made from pulping an issue of the London times. (Jessica Silverman Gallery, Undated) This makes the materials hidden because without hearing or reading that story the origin of the materials is unclear. This incorporation of a hidden context within the materials is an interesting mix of conceptual and material.

Amikam Toren (1992)  Of the Times - Thursday April 16th, 1992.  Pulped newspaper and PVA on canvas, paper and card. 234 x 219 cm.

Amikam Toren (1992) Of the Times - Thursday April 16th, 1992. Pulped newspaper and PVA on canvas, paper and card. 234 x 219 cm.

A continuation of this idea, which makes me happy in a way I cannot articulate, is what Toren calls a ‘pidgin’ painting, (Baker, 2013) (Jessica Silverman Gallery, Undated) which is a stretched canvas with removed sections of the fabric, the removed parts are turned into a form of paint (using a coffee grinder) which covers the remainder of the surface. This relational and dependant narrative is a beautifully executed idea.

Amikam Toren (2002)  Pidgin Painting (Yessss).  Pulped canvas, PVA and pencil. 71 x 59 Inches.

Amikam Toren (2002) Pidgin Painting (Yessss). Pulped canvas, PVA and pencil. 71 x 59 Inches.

In the early 1970’s Toren became obsessed with fragments, an obsession he claims continues to this day as a foundation for his work. (Baker, 2013)

Amikam Toren (1975)  Simple Fraction III.  Glass, araldite, shelf, drawing. 36 x 64 x 9 cm.

Amikam Toren (1975) Simple Fraction III. Glass, araldite, shelf, drawing. 36 x 64 x 9 cm.

In the Simple Fraction series, he takes an object that has been broken and would be regarded as useless (or pre-use regarding recycling) in this case a broken milk bottle.  (Jessica Silverman Gallery, Undated) Painstakingly reassembled the reformed object is displayed next to a drawing of the cracks formed. This series is an example of the multiple links found in his work. Like a fractal, the work speaks more the more the viewer looks at it. The white paper, the focus on the lines and marks in the drawing, the white shelf the bottle sits on, and the simplistic wooden frame all speak about links and meaning in the work.

Amikam Toren (1979)  Neither a Teapot nor a Painting.  Installation, mixed media. 179 x 15 x 2 cm. 

Amikam Toren (1979) Neither a Teapot nor a Painting. Installation, mixed media. 179 x 15 x 2 cm. 

In 1979 he created ‘Neither a teapot nor a painting’ a piece invoking Magritte’s ‘this is not a pipe.' (Artsy, Undated) I now find myself stuck between which piece is my favourite depiction of this idea. Magritte for its originality and impact and Toren’s for the attention to materiality in the concept. Toren turned a teapot into the paint which he then used to paint an image of the teapot that no longer exists. The painting is displayed alongside one of the unwanted fragments of the teapot, placed in a pigment jar.  To me, at the moment, this idea and presentation are quite simply perfect.

"The drive," Toren said, "was simply to reverse the notion that in representation, the subject is excluded from its representation." (Baker, 2013)

Toren had no formal art education, instead, he worked as an assistant to another artist for a few years. (Baker, 2013) The artist, Peter Hesse, opposed the commercial side of the artworld, an opinion that stuck with Toren throughout his career.  Toren's work contains a dry humour which he saw as inevitable given that his work is about the deconstruction of the human condition.

When talking about humour, he said, "I don't seek it, because I don't want to be a kind of entertainer," he said. "But it matters to me to the extent it would have mattered to somebody like Chekhov, who wasn't a comedian, but there is a lot of humour in his plays because they deal with the human condition." (Baker, 2013)

In his piece, ‘One’ from 2014 a section of a primed canvas has been cut from the surface and stuck in reverse back onto the surface. Showing the reality of the object and its materials, a recurring theme in Toren's work. (Jessica Silverman Gallery, Undated)

Toren worked on a series he called ‘Armchair paintings’ from the 1980’s. The set is composed of paintings purchased from street markets, which Toren then works on top of.  Adding a simplistic text style, each piece, and the resulting increase in the value of the artworks, speaks about the authorship and value of the piece, and of the artwork itself. (Jessica Silverman Gallery, Undated)

Toren’s works as a tutor at City and Guilds of London.  On his staff page he says about his work; “Underlying my practice is the idea that representation is a tautology. (a chair would be made out of its own matter into a painting of itself). This position reverses the age-old maxim, which states that representation excludes its subject.” (City and Guilds, Undated)

His process combines a witty dialogue between accumulation and reduction, and I find I can look at it far longer than the work of some other artists. Each piece is a simple everyday object or idea, and the reduction and assemblage of information moves his work into a practice about language, meaning itself and our interpretations of it. 

Amikam Toren (2012)  A User's Guide to Married Life.  Screen-print on Eco Craft 600 micro paper. 27.5 x 63.2cm

Amikam Toren (2012) A User's Guide to Married Life. Screen-print on Eco Craft 600 micro paper. 27.5 x 63.2cm

A note has to be made about his piece  ‘A users guide to married life’. (Artsy, Undated) Reminiscent of the simple, yet very intelligent, connections Toren is brilliant at making, this edition can be enjoyed for its simplicity or as a tool to explore more profound meaning. Which is probably my favourite thing about Toren as an artist.

The meaning is visual and brought by the viewer, for the most part. They will read this in a way that adds an element of mirroring of their own life.  Simple pictorial clues will mean different things to different people depending on what affect and effect marriage has had on their experience.

Reflection

It's obvious from the text how much I enjoy Toren’s work. The simple witticism of his work inspires me and is something I would like to capture, in my own way.

I've been inspired by Toren to disassemble canvas, physically. This began last year with fringing but I've begun to take it further with the aim of turning the material of canvas into a thick liquid that could be formed into a mold or reshaped.

Bibliography

Artsy (Undated) Amikam Toren : Neither a Teapot nor a Painting [Online] Available from: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/amikam-toren-neither-a-teapot-nor-a-painting-1 [Accessed 18.11.17].

Artsy (Undated) Amikam Toren : A User’s Guide to Married Life [Online] Available from: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/amikam-toren-a-users-guide-to-married-life [Accessed 18.11.17].

Baker, K. (2013) Amikam Toren finally able to live by his art [Online] Available from: http://www.sfgate.com/art/article/Amikam-Toren-finally-able-to-live-by-his-art-5056227.php [Accessed 17.11.17].

City and Guilds (Undated) Amikam Toren : Fine Art Tutor [Online] Available from: http://www.cityandguildsartschool.ac.uk/amikam-toren/ [Accessed 17.11.17].

Jessica Silverman Gallery (Undated) Amikam Toren [Online] Available from: http://jessicasilvermangallery.com/amikam-toren/ [Accessed 17.11.17].

Tate (Undated) Amikam Toren [Online] Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/amikam-toren-16792 [Accessed 17.11.17].

Note/Thought - Future research highlighted by Ally McGinn

Something I need to spend some time thinking about and begin to articulate is the painterly language in the work.

I have not explored this in length with language. Arguably this is evident in the work itself but I feel it's something I could think about in the coming month. To this end, a focused aim for research could be to explore painterly language. I feel as though I have the ability to use installation as a thinking tool now, in that when I actively perceive ‘things’ I can apply the perspective of object-in-space to that ‘thing’. So, I an able to explore the history and theory of painterly language without becoming re-immersed in painting entirely. I have moved away from painting in its traditional form and can return to it as a subject in more detail.

I have begun this with the text on gesture, which I found very engaging.

Agamben, G. (2000) ‘Notes on Gesture’. In: Agamben, G. Means Without End: Notes on Politics. London: University of Minnesota Press. Avaliable from:  https://monoskop.org/images/3/3c/Agamben_Giorgio_Means_without_end_notes_on_politics_2000.pdf  [Accessed 12.11.17].

Agamben, G. (2000) ‘Notes on Gesture’. In: Agamben, G. Means Without End: Notes on Politics. London: University of Minnesota Press. Avaliable from: https://monoskop.org/images/3/3c/Agamben_Giorgio_Means_without_end_notes_on_politics_2000.pdf [Accessed 12.11.17].

Studio Research - Reading a painting by Ally McGinn

Much of the research I've been doing explores and defines the ways we read visual information. The ways we understand it and the meaning applied by us and the artist. These themes have arisen in researching Heidegger, Derrida, Danto, Bell, Hume, Kant and others. This has led to a particular interest in the ways we read paintings.

So I today spent the day in the workshop cutting up two canvases to explore the practical idea of turning a painting into a book. Highlighting the ways we read paintings, and forming a new way of exploring a work.

The first test was done with a painting straight off the wall. It has a solid layer of primer (probably about 4 coats) and a mix of acrylic and oil paint on the surface. The template for this book is 19x40cm to make a book 19x20cm wide.

The second is with an unprimed canvas that was placed on a studio floor for two months. Acrylic paint and dust cover the majority of the surface. This canvas had previously been stretched and nominated as a painting. I applied a single layer of acrylic sealant to either side.

The template for this book is 36x25 to make a book 18x25cm, this measurement is taken from an art theory textbook, which generally have slightly different ratios to other books.

My aim for this process is to discover the best way to turn my floor piece (see here) which is 9x2.5m into a book. The pages will be the size of a traditional painting (which one I am not sure at the moment) and I don't yet know whether it will be displayed horizontally or back onto the wall.

Both tests should work through the next stage (binding) but the sealed canvas (experiment 2) has a tactile quality that is hard to define. The sealant has a plasticity that primer cannot achieve (due to the addition of pigment) and is something that encourages the viewer to flip through the pages of the book. It is a pleasurable experience.

I am going to have to decide whether the work will be shown on the wall or on a plinth as this will define the size of the pages. For now, the binding experiments will continue with these two smaller books.

 Cutting the pages, in a double spread, using a metal template and mortuary blades.

 Cutting the pages, in a double spread, using a metal template and mortuary blades.

Pages piled together. 

Pages piled together. 

Quills grouped into sets of two, due to the thickness of the canvas and paint. Ready for binding.

Quills grouped into sets of two, due to the thickness of the canvas and paint. Ready for binding.

Book experiment 2, with acrylic sealant. Ready for binding. 

Book experiment 2, with acrylic sealant. Ready for binding. 

Studio Research - Week 6 by Ally McGinn

A relitively productive week. 

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. A painting turned into a sculpture.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. A painting turned into a sculpture.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Artists tools

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Artists tools

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Finding pleasure in the small conversations.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Finding pleasure in the small conversations.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation].   Busy studio. I've been viewing the walls of my space as a sort of continually shifting sketchbook, where documentary photos are the only remaining evidence.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. 

Busy studio. I've been viewing the walls of my space as a sort of continually shifting sketchbook, where documentary photos are the only remaining evidence.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. The studio wall by the end of this week. Big changes, but a similar conversation.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. The studio wall by the end of this week. Big changes, but a similar conversation.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Exploring depth within painting(s).

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. Exploring depth within painting(s).

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. A conversation i particularly enjoyed this week.

Ally McGinn (2017) [Studio documentation]. A conversation i particularly enjoyed this week.