Even though there has been an expansion of technological possibilities for art over recent years, paint remains precious as a medium: it has a staying power few others can match. To explore how painting continues to be relevant today, we are pleased to present Surface Value, an exhibition curated by Mark Wright, who teaches at both The Glasgow School of Art and University of Brighton.
The exhibition brings together painters who are colleagues and also authorities on the medium. From Glasgow there is Alistair Payne, the Head of the School, and Stuart Mackenzie RSA, Senior drawing and painting tutor. From the University of Brighton, Christopher Stevens, Head of Painting and Nadine Feinson, Senior lecturer in Fine Art Painting. What they all have is a commitment to painting both within their own practice and as a taught subject. The exhibition will travel to & Model Gallery in Leeds in November, expanding to include a further eight painters, and is kindly supported by The Glasgow School of Art. ‘The paintings and drawings in Surface Value initially appear very diverse in terms of imagery and the technical methods they employ to produce their works. However, what they all demonstrate is a focused engagement with the craft and material values relevant to painting. As a viewer, a focused approach to engaging with the materiality that defines the works is key to understanding the paintings. These qualities start to reveal ‘elements’ that concern the various forms that present themselves as the rudiments of all painted images: marks, lines, traces, edges and outlines. To quote Andre Rottman from his essay ‘Remarks on Contemporary Painting’s Perseverance,’ in the publication Thinking through Painting: “For the longest time, the theory and practice of painting has been organized, contained and propelled by a series of closely related antagonisms, colour and contour, transparency and opacity, gesture and facture, illusion and flatness, semblance and objecthood, chroma and contrast, chance and composition, mark-making and the monochrome, ostentatious virtuosity and anonymous execution, figuration and abstraction, to name just a few.” The works in Surface Value not only engage with these so-called antagonisms but also reflect an awareness of different legacies and diverse traditions from minimalism to neo-romanticism. The works range from abstraction to the representational and the images have evolved not only through the processes of working but with an acknowledgment of diverse influences and source material. This includes observational drawing and photography as the starting point for the works. From an exhibition perspective, by selecting and juxtaposing diverse works one is made particularly aware of the working processes employed by the artists, such as the breadth and diversity of mark making and gesture they employ. It defines the implicit authorship of the works and also alludes to other concerns such as temporality whether through the employment of iconography or as embodied within the physical production of the work.’ Mark Wright