New Works + Catalogue
Gallery Andreas Binder presents the new works by Tim Maguire.
In choosing to create this new series of monochrome paintings, Tim Maguire has taken what might be seen as a risk in depriving himself - and his audience - of what has been one of his great strengths in recent years: the riot of colour, the hot reds and greens and pinks and yellows that have animated his work. This new departure may even strike some viewers as a perverse reversal of direction.
In fact, the move represents a further stage in the long exploration of the balance between process and image - between the artist controlling what we see on one hand and a deliberate distancing of the artist on the other - which has characterised Maguire’s work from such early experiments as drawing with his feet instead of his hand; or more recently the unpredictable application of corrosive solvents into his meticulously painted surfaces.
Some departures generate instant and deliberate results; others throw up problems that may only be solved some time later. The colour separation paintings are a case in point: Maguire had reached an impasse in his attempts to find an analogy for the process in which colour photographs are printed using tiny dots of just four colours - cyan, magenta, yellow and black - which the eye then mixes into the full range of colours. When a painter mixes them on the palette, however, the result is a brown sludge. Several years later, working on a series of abstract paintings in which chance played a leading role, Maguire realised that applications of solvent could provide his analogy; that he could build up an image by applying the four colours one by one and, by flicking solvent and dragging it across the surface of a drying canvas with a stiff brush, he could reveal the successive layers of colour underneath.
The monochrome series - ‘monochrome’ used loosely, since there is a trace of colour in each black - grew directly out of the colour separation process. The tonal range of each colour is digitally generated and printed photographically in black and white as the artist’s reference, and it was studying these
black-and-white images closely, day after day in the studio, that prompted Maguire’s interest in exploring monochrome. The new paintings are worked up from a single colour layer: from the magenta alone, for instance. With just one layer of paint, there is less room for intervention by flicking or dragging, and much more evidence than we are accustomed to in Maguire’s work of the artist’s own hand. The shape of each painting is the result of a single session in the studio, for once the paint is dry the image is fixed. The white, so strong here, is the white of the canvas itself, either left untouched or revealed by solvent.
The balance between process and image is profoundly different in this series, the form of each petal or fruit or flower head emerging with a quite unexpected power. Perhaps as the result of an evolutionary need to see by moonlight or at dusk, the human eye is able to read more into monochrome images, to see
more, as it were. So, here, we register a palpable weight in the imagery, a physical presence not seen in the colour separations.
We are reminded of early photography, of course, but also of Man Ray’s surrealist images from the 1920s; and there is a strange feeling of three-dimensionality and solidity to the forms, as if they had been modelled in clay or stone. Seen together, Maguire’s new paintings display a remarkable range of tone and effect.
Text by Bruce Millar