Auf der Spitze des Eisbergs
Rod Barton, Londen, UK, 2009
Bas van den Hurk
What is a painting and how can you define it?
That is the most important question to ask when you work as a painter. It is a discussion that seems to reappear in every generation. Painting was only recently declared ‘dead’ and no longer ‘valid’ but it still thrives today.
If we look at the recent history of painting we can see that it was off the map at Documenta X, no longer a topic for consideration. Yet the painter’s eye survived and appeared in the form of non-physical new media and photography. When the physicality of painting re-appeared in the mid nineties it was dominated by the figurative.
Was painting actually returning to a conservative figuration? Should its surface depict a recognisable representation of the world? The answer to that question could be as a negative opposition - abstract painting. We saw Mary Heilmann ‘become someone’ and Tomma Abts win the Turner Prize. Saatchi discovered ‘Abstract America’, and other institutions put up ‘Conversations on Abstract Painting’. It would be silly to say that the institutional agendas are dictating the perception of art, but one cannot deny that this clearly illustrates that the reception and endless discussion about painting being dead, or even conservative is wrong, quite the contrary. Painting is still in a state of flux and encouragingly ever changing.
These observations and questions on painting are represented in this exhibition as a state of interplay between abstraction and figuration. The four artists here are showing a small section of what can be considered as expanded painting.
Auf der Spitze des Eisbergs, a selection of works by a generation of artists who work with paint today.
Text: Michiel Ceulers