Gavin Jones


‘Making a painting can be a struggle. Part of the problem is the way in which paintings are made. Ideally, when making a painting the intention is to do the form painted as well as the material used a service. This is where problems usually begin and when things become unsettled. When you allow the paint to guide you, you relinquish a certain degree of control. Call it going off script or improvisation, this way of painting can often seem like a deviation enabling a situation whereby the paint has full autonomy. This type of scenario, which I frequently participate in, can yield some unexpected results some of which can work in the paintings favor. However in retrospect what is produced can appear to have been made involuntarily and irrespective of any intentions I may have had to begin with. It appears that wherever there is paint there will always be these problems one such problem is how to articulate the shape that that struggle takes, this is why I require a system one that alleviates some of the anxiety around making decisions about painting while painting. 

Printing offers such a system. The routine procedures that are part of printmaking are of particular importance to me whereby images are composed, processed, transferred and then duplicated. One particular printing technique I have used are rubbings, this is a rudimentary form of printing that is more immediate in its implementation compared to other printing methods and could be seen as being closer to drawing than it is to printing. Rubbings require a surface or texture these textures need to have a pronounced topography in order to be effective. The act of rubbing is akin to that of scanning, a type of skimming / pressing motion that gives a two dimensional visual form to surfaces it comes into contact with producing a transfer or graphic imprint. These can vary in detail depending on the amount of pressure administered, thickness of substrate and the consistency of paint used. These material considerations contribute to the final image and the incidents that occur during this process become part of the visual noise which functions as part of an illusion, albeit a pictorial conceit. Here the quality of the transfer is at risk of becoming compromised due to these material concerns posing a threat to the legibility and potential loss of recognition to the forms and structures used. Because of the variable nature that these rubbings present what emerges is a vulnerability of picturing in general, casting doubt over the forms used and their ability to depict.

How paintings are made can sometimes get in the way of what is represented, but then how a painting is constructed makes for an interesting subject as it manipulates the way we experience form as well as content. Painting is not without its flaws and the mere presence of labor only exacerbates the situation. This unpredictable way of painting allows me to exploit the material transgressions and accidents that can occur while working, this enables me to further explore how paintings can be made. Painting for me requires that there be a problem and that the system I have mentioned be used to process such problems concerning alternative material analogies, visual equivalents for a mediated experience couched in abstraction. Painting here is tasked with the job of testing the tolerance of these painted forms. For now, the problem remains one of depicting. How do you go about making such a painting that frames itself as its subject without relying on the usual signs and tropes that traditionally indicate that a struggle has occurred? ‘

Gavin Jones / June 2021 

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