cut paper works London 1995-2000

These cut-paper works come out of an interest in the meaning of gesture in contemporary painting. I enjoy questioning the way that abstract painting generates signifiers of expression. It’s in this sense that I’ll make a work which resembles an expressive painting but which through its fabrication is really the antithesis of expressiveness. One intention is to establish new criteria for constructing and viewing a painting. For a long time I’ve been prefabricating immediacy by using stencilled splashes and cutout drips that theatrically replicate a kind of painterly authenticity. To do this I make work out of cut-up painted paper. Paint is dripped onto paper from which everything unpainted is then cut away. I’m left with a fragile structure, like the residue of a painting, which I may combine with similar fragments to make painted layers.

As part of this painting method I have wanted to complicate the vocabulary of gestural abstraction with inappropriate ingredients. It’s a way of deviating from the recipes of abstraction. Elements from ’60s psychedelia, printed textiles, from craft processes like weaving and wood inlay, from tawdry ’50s design, from hippy furnishings, are incorporated as motifs of a gestural vocabulary. This mixes a canonical gestural language with some of the visual paraphernalia from recent culture including visual languages tainted as having second-class status. The possibilities of impurity and incorrectness fascinate me, especially as tools to get under the protective aura of that abstraction’s claim to ontological authenticity.