Rosalind Davis, StrangeLands, 2017, Oil & thread on linen © Rosalind Davis, Courtesy of Collyer Bristow Gallery, London
Could you explain this work?
My paintings begin with the highly rationalised and objective geometries of architecture. This painting is based on two architectural sites; Quai Branley in Paris by Jean Nouvel and Caixa Art Foundation in Madrid. I photographed the exterior spaces of these buildings, then dis-assembled its geometries and collaged them together to re-create a new and multifaceted space. The resulting environment probe the relationships between both the physical and psychological aspects of space, and the way these are navigated.
What does this piece deal with?
The piece deals with a number of subjects. I am very interested in how we navigate space and form, as well as boundaries between and within spaces. For example, how to move through a space, what can be located in a space, the meaning or rationale in a space. I want to create a sense of both interior and exterior space at the same time- or collapse those two elements so that we are uncertain whether we are in a building or outside of it. Interior space represents the psychological, and the exterior space is the publicly viewed space. In this painting you see the architectural reference off centre- a doorframe- or portal like opening that alludes to the boundaries between these spaces. At the same time, the size of the canvas (100x100cm) is a square window size, so you are looking through a window space into another space. The composition and form of the painting means that there is also the illusion of a 3D space whilst you are looking at a 2D painting. Incorporating both 2D and 3D models of space within the work engages the viewer in a process of looking, interpreting, and constructing space for themselves through their own individual experience. The subjective and dis-orienting nature of the work establishes relationships between the personal and the systematic, highlighting a disparity between the imagined and the real. This seeks to re-claim the failed ideals of modernist space and intimate a more personalised space of one’s own creation.
What medium and techniques did you use?
Initially photographs- many photographs of each building I research! I then use photoshop to visualize different possibilities of the spaces together, and which configuration works the best for my intentions. I then print this and use it a reference point to make a drawing, and then use oil and build up the colour in glazes. In this piece there are only 3 colours used: carmine red, lamp black, and lemon yellow that are combined to build up a very sensuous colour palette. Threads also always intervene in my works; their tautness dissects boundaries and creating shattered geometric planes, the imagery often being literally pinned down, sewn up and threaded together. In this painting it is the orange diagonals as well as highlights across the painting, which require you to come close to the canvas to identify. The use of thread often traditionally is used as reference to the feminine and domestic activity of making, repair, and creation, but here I use it to symbolically puncture the predominant male domain and hard edged aesthetics of modernist architecture, geometric abstraction, and design. You can also see another painting in the exhibition Make_Shift with another version of this composition, it’s a much more threaded piece and different colour systems. Again, a slow building up of texture, paint, and form.
What were the struggles of making it?
Originally, actually this was another painting, and one which at the time I had been very happy with- it was the same form but very minimal. And one day I just looked at it, and felt it needed to evolve and become richer and bolder in its materiality so I started repainting. When I make paintings, I tend to work very slowly building up layers, looking and re-looking before deciding on the depth of the colour or thickness of thread. I always use my hands a lot to smooth and drag the paint once its applied, and to take away the brushstroke. There is always a struggle when you make work; intellectually, aesthetically, practically, I think that the joy you feel as an artist is when you perhaps win those struggles, and make a work you feel satisfied or you feel you have achieved something with the piece, and that you have also, hopefully surprised yourself a little!
What is the purpose behind this work?
To develop the work and to illicit a response from a viewer, to hopefully share a different way of seeing things. To get people to ask things of the work or question things about the work. I find conversations about the work to be of great interest in the development of new works. Ultimately, the purpose of each work is for me to explore new territories in my practice.