Enamel satin varnish on MDF,
150 x 130 cm. Courtesy CCA Andratx
Given the hard-edge, to what extent is that line, masking tape delineated, a simplification? Can it not, actually, make things more difficult?
Post-war, late modernist doctrines and theories made the notion of simplification, reduction, "abstraction" its' central heroic arena where form would fight for... what? What was at stake - spirituality prevailing over the humdrum of emotion? Emotion over the humdrum of decoration? And so on, right down to the enemy of all, depiction, or dare one say it, "representation"?
The battlegrounds of modernism are now historical sites and beautifully paved over - sanitised and digestible. But was it like that? What happened before, during and after? On what was any legacy founded? Was it simply a matter of applying Krauss' grid and hailing a victory? Was it as easy as simplify, reduce, abstract and 'hey presto!'? Is it not more complicated than that - before during and after? Isn't 'to simplify' actually about making things 'more complicated'? In the heart of complication do we not find 'essence' at its core? And what is so bad about painting recognisable things?
Given the hard-edge, these four artists complicate matters. These four artists are about persevering to what is, could be, essential.
The concept of the exhibition "Later on we shall simplify things - Tim Ayres, Ab van Hanegem, Jan van der Ploeg and Han Schuil" to take place at the Andratx Cultural Centre in Mallorca in the spring of 2005, is to show how an excavation of the paradigmatic sites of modernist principals (with regard to painting) have unearthed questions as to the very nature at the root of its premise and that, if one is to look back one also has to look forward and beyond. And, that by looking forward, a glance backward is of necessity - that the responsibility of invention involves the reciprocal of revision. These four painters all take a position at that paradox - is the edge so hard? Is straight so essential? What does one mean with "abstract"? And is it that complicated - is it not so, as in Ayres' words, "painting is only ever about putting your brush (or your masking tape) in the right place and at the right time"?
Patricia Asbaek & Tim Ayres