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reticent. is this metaphorical? maybe. is it ambiguous? i don’t think so, other than that everything under the sun has the possibility of possessing conflicting states embedded within itself and on its outer surface or skin.” FW What emerges here is that the objects become subjects during the course of your painting. the wood develops a character, the teapot a quality and so forth. part of their subjecthood is due to the way in which you draw the world into them by metaphorical means, and another part is their ambiguity that you endow them with, though as you say that may not be your intention—ambiguity is ‘slippery’. For the viewer your painting has the effect of estranging the objects, that is, they are less familiar than they might have been prior to your painting of them when they were thought of as mere utilitarian or non-objects. in both cases, the metaphorical and ambiguous subject of still life comes to exceed the artist’s original attraction and engagement with it. let loose by you in painting these objects are open to interpretation in different ways, giving rise to speculative narratives beyond the painting, or at least of feelings of being unsettled. What do you think? pn Well, it’s undeniable that every viewer brings with them their own interpretation to the artwork. And as the artist is, of course, the first viewer, then i can also speculate and interpret on what it means. this is usually best done after the event. Let’s say the day after! And yes, the works are usually open enough to accommodate possible narratives. So although the objects are apparently ordinary, they might possess particularities that are extraordinary in their relationships? And representing things in the medium of paint does involve strange trade-offs, playing with a colour or mark to seek a form of correspondence. i am not anti-ambiguity, but i am aware that it can easily be self-fulfilling. And the world is already quite odd and exciting, so it just needs a little nudge to achieve what you describe as estrangement. For example, teapots are strange shapes, don’t you think? Put it next to a piece of timber and things happen. And any pairing encourages comparison, whether it suggests similarity or dissonance. my final thought is that because the world is already full of ambiguity, we rely on context to help settle it. Once this is ruptured then the imagination takes over.

Further information on the artist is available at www.philipnicol 1

Pavese, Cesare 2002 the moon and the Bonfires. New York: New York Review of Books.

AmBiguOuS PRACtiCES 75

Still Life: Ambiguous Practices Exhibition Catalogue  

Catalogue by Frances Woodley

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