Issuu on Google+

GRAHAM DAY: SELECTED WORKS ON PAPER FROM THE 1980s

dalla Rosa Gallery 11 - 28.09.2013

dalla Rosa Gallery | 121 Clerkenwell Road | London EC1R 5BY | dallarosagallery.com


Graham Day, Ambiguous Structures II (1989), integral marbling on paper, 29 x 23 cm


GRAHAM DAY: SELECTED WORKS ON PAPER FROM THE 1980s 11 – 28 September 2013 dalla Rosa is delighted to present Graham Day’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Following on from his 1970s show held this time last year, Selected Works on Paper from the 1980s focuses on Day’s interest in the traditional technique of marbling combining ancient and contemporary imagery. Making art in the 1980s - From intellectual suicide to the fetishism of technique (Graham Day, Summer 2013) The beginning of the 1980s found me working on a big project that from the start was called ‘The Shape of Time’, which is the title of a book given to me some time earlier by the Systems artist Michael Kidner. Thinking about time I was intrigued to know if there was any connection between the solar and lunar methods of time reckoning. I set out to see if I could find a visual link between them. I took a line of 365 divisions representing the days of the year and bent it into various simple geometric shapes, then plotted where the full moons and no moons would lie on the bent line and looked for meaningful patterns or shapes. My attitude was that as in ‘Naïve Art’ where unusual and valuable results derive from uneducated or untrained activity then maybe in ‘Naïve Science’ I could make a discovery. I didn’t, but the initial thought about combining the two different cycles generated twelve paintings that occupied me for several years speculating about different cultures. One of the major art events of the decade for me occurred by chance. Wandering aimlessly through the Victoria and Albert Museum one afternoon I was struck by a little picture of a rider on an elephant that was made up from little pieces of marbled paper with the joins over painted with gold. It was Indian, from the Deccan, 17th century and it hovered between abstraction and representation in a dynamic unresolved way and was the start of a ten year creative study of the history and making of paper marbling. I began the practical craft aspect by simply getting the diverse materials to perform in a predictable way which was difficult as marbling is alchemy in action, you boil seaweed to just the right degree strain it and throw down pigments tempered with ox gall, create the pattern then pick up the colour with paper mordanted with alum, all or any of these procedures can be bafflingly unpredictable. opposite: Graham Day, Four Spheres (1989), integral marbling on antique Indian paper, 16 x 32 cm


Alongside the craft I researched the history and development of marbling. Originating in China along with paper, ink and printing it spread west through Central Asia and along the silk route through India, Persia, Turkey and the Levant, each area using it in a distinct fascinating way. Crossing to Venice and along the Maghreb and up through Spain reaching its apogee a thousand years later in Victorian London. Next I studied the small number of Indian examples of combined or ‘integral’ marbling, mostly through illustration. The different areas were not individually collaged on to the support paper but made by successively masking areas out and progressively building the image up. I made pieces that had numerous facets that would demonstrate the Indian technique and to judge the effectiveness of my progress I made marbled versions from illustrations of drawings from 17th century India. To make it obvious that they were transcriptions I enlarged them to 200%, people still called them forgeries, which didn’t bother me, a forgery has the deliberate intention to deceive, whereas I was making post-modern artworks stamped with my name, acknowledging the original and openly reworking it. Now that I had mastered the process to my own satisfaction and absorbed the limited history of the technique I set about using it creatively. I had seen and photographed in a rundown haberdasher’s shop in Tunis a group of


diminutive mannequins draped with lengths of colourful pattern materials. This lead to my making a series of images combining marbling with photographs of dummies printed down using the gum bichromate technique where you make up your own light sensitive emulsion of different colours that can be applied to good quality paper. And so the decade closed. The ten years had seen me completely change my attitude and approach to making art, previously my artwork had been concept driven with the most appropriate medium chosen to visualize it, this had begun to seem unsatisfactory, not because it was uninteresting but because I had not been able to function as an artist, there was insufficient interaction between me and any public. I think looking back this was why marbling had seemed so appealing, it had a history which one could inhabit, it had craft mysteries that were endlessly absorbing and challenging, it is essentially about combing gorgeous bright pigments in fluid patterns, where the simple sense of achievement in getting it all to work was rewarding, there was an international craft fraternity that lavished praise, I had solo exhibitions and sales - but, there was the danger of the craft coming before the art and that’s the wrong way round. For further information contact hello@dallarosagallery.com All installation photos by Philip John Jones.


previous page: Graham Day, River of Books (detail, 1989), integral marbling on suminagashi background and ink on paper, 34.5 x 21 cm this page: Graham Day: Selected Works on Paper from the 1980s, installation view


GRAHAM DAY Education The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, Wiltshire Hornsey School of Art, London The Working Men’s College, London Solo Exhibitions 2012 Graham Day: From the 1970s, dalla Rosa Gallery, London 2011 The Seneca Collection, Rose Issa Projects, London 2006 The Game of Life, Gallery 66, New England USA 2005 Plato’s Shadow, Studio Caparrelli, London 2004 Philosophical Furniture, Studio Caparrelli, London 2003 Naïve Science, Studio Caparrelli, London 2002 Simorgh, October Gallery, London 2002 The Conference of the Birds, Mary Ogilvie Gallery, Oxford 2001 The Conference of the Birds, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (Iran) 2001 Graham Day, Galerie Jaine Rubeiz, Beirut (Lebanon) 2001 The Art of Graham Day, Los Angeles Public Library (USA) 2000 Around, Forge Gallery, Bath 1997 Retro-Perspective, Diorama Gallery, London 1996 Perfect Form, Diorama Gallery, London 1995 Urban Yantras, Leighton House, London 1993 The Fetishism of Technique, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath 1992 The Conference of the Birds, Jaliyan Gallery, London 1990 Marbrure Integrale, Bibliothèque Municipale, Rennes (France) 1990 Recent Works on Paper, Galerie Jeanne Thouard, Paris 1988 Photo-Domino, C.I.C.L. Arles (France) 1986 Painted Books, Victoria Gallery, Bath 1978 Graham Day, Chapter Art Gallery, Cardiff 1975 Works on Paper, Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham 1974 Graham Day, Thumb Gallery, London Works in Public Collections British Museum, London British Library, London Victoria & Albert Museum, London Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris The World Bank, Washington D.C., USA


Graham Day, Absence (1986), integral marbling on Chinese paper, 23.5 x 31.5 cm


Š 2013 Graham Day & dalla Rosa Gallery, all rights reserved dalla Rosa Gallery | 121 Clerkenwell Road | London EC1R 5BY | dallarosagallery.com


GRAHAM DAY: Selected Works on Paper from the 1980s