Thursday, 18 October 2012

Observation at the Frieze

The annual Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park had a lot of very interesting stuff. Contemporary Art is alive an well in London (although half the exhibiting galleries were from Europe and the USA).

It's amazing what materials a contemporary artist will use to create the, predominantly abstract, items on show here. Even for stuff to hang on the wall. Just painting is the exception here.

I was interested to find works that were, on the one hand geometric, and on the other hand used some aspect of photography (or photogrammy). I found some.

I had an interesting conversation with a gallerist who had on display a wall-hanging in the form of a quilt. The components of the quilt were geometric, as was indeed the syncopated pattern printed on it. The whole work was clearly carefully designed using, if not a computer then a ruler and square. I wondered if the artist had used a computer. The gallerist thought not. Would it have made the work of lower value had the artist used a computer? No comment. I suspect it would.

Further along, another gallery with another geometric painting. This time something that looked clearly algorithmic from a distance, a sort of pile of twigs but with a symmetry of pattern that drew my attention, and my suspicion that there was a computer at work here. I walked over.

On close inspection it looked like it was clearly a painting (acrylic) but it had been predominantly made as a block print. It could be that there was just one tiny block involved, in the form of a single twig, and this had been repeatedly applied. Or more likely, a block with a collection of twig patterns on it, had been applied in different orientations and in different densities.

This would explain, on the one hand the algorithmic appearance and on the other the apparent randomness. Fascinating. No computer, unless the block was a 3D print, but a systematic appearance that had drawn my attention. When I mentioned my interest was in the geometry and the means of production, she grew distinctly interested but was confident that the image had been painted rather than printed and that this did not involve a computer.

Next I came to a huge picture (3m by 2m?) which was geometric in the sense that I have used to describe my own image, shown above [i.e. coons patches]. This time the gallerist knew quite a bit about the how the image had been produced. He knew that the image was the consequence of creating a sandwich of many layers in an image processing package on a computer (presumably using Photoshop). He assumed the original image was a photograph. It could have been, or it could have been a geometric pattern. Either way, the repeated diffusion that comes with repeated overlaying of differently processed layers leads to a fantastic 3D effect in an image that is basically abstract. Amazing.

I would say I probably saw a hundred pictures that I liked, out of a thousand (?). For time restriction, I basically ignored anything you couldn't hang on a wall, unless I tripped over it. I can't possibly discuss all one hundred pictures here. From time to time, as I decipher my notes, I will add some comments on the rest.