18 May - 2 June 2013
an exhibition organised by AND in association with the artist
Exhibition opening times Wednesday to Saturday 12noon - 7pm or by appointment
AND eventSpace • 10 Back Church Lane, London E1 1LX • t: 020 7481 9053 • e: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.and.org.uk • roderickcoyne.and.org.uk
In the recent work of Roderick Coyne the image is submitted to a process of transcription, activating a dialogue between painting and photography which generates new possibilities for the visual image to be experienced as a material object. Painters of course have used photography as part of their work from its very inception and photographers have always utilised conventions at work in genres of painting. And while there is a lively tradition of collage in artistic production, it is perhaps less common to find artists who are consciously using photo-graphic and painting media in spatial adjacency, such that each draws from, and upon the other.
In these new works the artist begins with a photographic recording of his subject, usually landscape. The method is as follows: the photographic record is rendered digitally, and the resulting image divided up into a grid of rectangular A3 size sections. Alternating sections of the image are printed out onto A3 sheets of printing paper (not squares, this method is not referencing the construction of perspective through the use of the camera obscura) and laid out with alternating blank sheets of paper (or voids) in between, giving a checkerboard effect in which half of the original image is missing. A scaled down version of the original, complete image is positioned close to hand, and this the artist refers to in order to sketch freehand into the alternating voids, a drawn outline of the missing parts. After this rough sketch indicating the position of objects has been made, there begins a process of painting in these voids. The resulting image appears to the casual eye of the viewer to match the photographic image.
Is this referential activity a process of copying? Not in the sense of a tracing over, or simply as a reiteration. In the movement from eye to hand to surface, the artist engages in a drawing from memory, a process of imaginative projection in which something is lost through transcription, and something is gained. Visual information is inscribed anew.
The transcription by hand also seems to be a way of opening up time for the artist, making decisions mark by mark, at once close to and then moving backwards, performing a dynamic which parallels the activity of walking, looking and photographing in a landscape. The voids then come to be occupied by the mark of an action in time rather than an image of verisimilitude.
While at a distance, the image can be mistaken as one homogenous surface, drawing closer one quickly identifies an obvious difference between pixel and paint and the integrity of the image begins to fall apart. But then, drawing back, the distinction collapses and again the image coheres. The source image is disassembled (ruined one might say), and then reassembled (or salvaged) as a kind of patchwork. Through working in the in-between, the exact reproducibility of the photographic is undermined and rendered open to infinite interpretation, making a composite which is complete and yet incomplete. And the effect is curious because while the individual brush strokes of the painting are completely different to the digitally pixillated photographic image, the pixels and the individual dabs of paint seem to inhabit the field of the image equably. (It is worth remembering here that the word digit refers to a unit or bit which is part of a larger unity). One begins to realise that the painted section is not trying to emulate the digitised section and neither is the digitised section trying to emulate the painted section. The sections sit democratically alongside each other, each is missing a part of itself and yet is completed by the presence of the other in its difference.
On one level, the apparent homogeneity of the picture at a distance is a lure to draw one in to consider seeing, looking and recognition. But there is also the subject matter of the picture. We are looking at representations of things, of objects we may or may not recognise, a tablecloth, bricks, a boat? As two dimensional abstracted shapes they seem stitched into the fabric of the patchwork, and hemmed in by the frame. As representations of half recognized objects un-tethered from a wider context, they appear like beached vessels or suspended objects, lifting us out of the everyday into a kind of ‘floating world’ of particles, pixels, dabs and granules. Manipulating these differing particles of matter becomes for the artist an act of ‘crossing fields’ which fabricates a material object. The concreteness of the artwork, arrived at through a combination of intuition and rationale, does not so much correspond with an image of the world as stir in us the persistent memory of a dream within our waking lives.