Let’s Achieve Something Great Together 3 – Details With Meaning

Today I added a detail to my latest painting in the form of canvas tacks. These were used traditionally when stretching canvas over a wooden frame to pin down the canvas. Now the staple gun is more widely used due to convenience and ease of use. I had already stretched linen over the frames I’d made using a staple gun, but knew that I would be adding the tack details later once I had prepared the surface. The tacks become features for their aesthetic value rather than their function. Likewise when I use hinges in my work to connect panels together. I’ve also painted the edges of the linen with Titanium White, so that it’s a painted surface rather than exposed Gesso (this helps with durability and light fastness). My intent is to make a subtle feature out of the edges of the painting for a couple of reasons. The first, is that I plan to exhibit the painting with the lower hinged panel at an angle to the wall and resting on my sculpture Sight Specific, which will be featured in the painting. Secondly, I’m referencing an influential painting that I admire by Rene Magritte titled The Human Condition (1933) re: canvas tacks visible on the edge of the painting in the painting.

In her book The Surrealists: Revolutionaries in Art & Writing 1919-35, Jemima Montagu comments on Magritte’s painting, “The work raises questions that are fundamental to the problem of representation and the ancient debate about illusion and reality” (Montagu, 2002, p.92). I would like to add that The Human Condition then by default places the observer as its subject. By engaging with the painting, the observer’s assumptions about visual perception are undermined, which creates a jolt of sudden self-awareness. The awareness of perception, or more simply, ‘Aware’. Other correlations could be made, such as the dynamic between internal and external, both physically and in terms of human perception. To me such a painting acts as a mirror that throws the observer back out towards themselves in the moment of engaging in looking. In those moments, the observer is uniquely connected to the artist rather than being immersed in an illusional representation. The painting continually pushes you back to you. Could it be said that the painting, at that moment vanishes due to the shift in subject and perception?

Click on the images below to view larger.


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