Skip to main content

Sum (LCA Fine Art Degree Show Catalogue, 2014)

The seventeenth century French mathematician, Blaise Pascal wrote, 'our achievements of today are but the sum total of our thoughts of yesterday. You are today where the thoughts of yesterday brought you and you will be tomorrow where the thoughts of today take you.' To the visual artist, the achievements of today, and of tomorrow, are made material and accessible to others through individual works, which are in turn marked by the intentions of those who made them.

Central to this making is the culture of the studio, which within Fine Art extends across all disciplinary approaches and functions as something close to Martin Heidegger’s ‘clearing’ or space, in which practice is allowed to show up as practice. Whatever the material inclination of the maker the practice is rooted in, and never less than, the conditions of its making. Yet in moving beyond material limitations, the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts.

As a spectator it can be daunting to attempt to navigate a route through the maze-like complexity of contemporary Fine Art. As a maker the problem is magnified. In 1979, American art critic Rosalind Krauss mapped out an expanded theoretical field for sculpture in order to account for developments within recent practice. In so doing she drew from the history of modernism, from the logic of evolving forms, and from the traditional function of sculpture in the West.

Today, the speed of expansion within all areas of Fine Art has outstripped the capacity of the artist, critic, or even the art historian to comfortably fence off, sub-divide or sum up the conditions and objects of practice. Meaning has become more localised, more dependent on personal and cultural narratives and on drivers outside of practice itself, to the extent that practice is now, in spirit if not in form, perhaps closer to what it once was.

Within this climate, the contemporary Fine Artist is confronted by difficulties that can become burdens—history, technology, the sheer plurality of ideas and objects. Yet in spite of this burdened condition the Fine Artist is still able, through patience, application, imagination and intelligence, to find freedom and a personal space to think beyond and behind what has been, to test material and theoretical boundaries and to draw and re-draw lines of limitation in the sand. In sum: to understand that meaning functions ‘in relation to’ what is and what has been.

In the course of three years of study these young artists have met their challenges with vigour, sensitivity and humour, and in that time have striven to develop individual voices made audible along material channels of their choosing. The Fine Art programme requires students to acquire knowledge of a wide range of methods and practices, through workshops, studio development and critiques. History and theory are woven into this fabric in order to embed the notion of practice more firmly in the personal, cultural and material constituents of the discipline. Students are equipped with the tools to excavate their own field to reveal the interconnectedness of its layers.

The works of the students on show here bear testament to the accumulation of thoughts and the search for creative freedom. The paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, photographs and films are evidence of separate journeys across choppy waters. Happily, all have reached the other side—to embark once again. This exhibition is, therefore, an aggregate of parts and a point of location for future engagements. A sum is both a conclusion and an acknowledgment of identity, insofar as its particulars must remain visible, knowable and discrete from other things.

You will be tomorrow where the thoughts of today take you. 

Tom Palin, 2014

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pictures, Truths and Methods: From Function to Form in Abstract Painting

This paper takes Patrick Heron’s assertion as to the abstract nature of painting as a starting point for a phenomenological investigation into the ways in which abstractworks comport themselves. How is it that abstract paintings become meaningful, and along which communicative channels might meaning flow? Perhaps in opposition to Picasso’s denial of the possibility of abstract art, and affirmation of the vitality of figurative painting (his restatement of, “the power of the object”), Heron presented an alternative idea; declaring all paintings to be, in effect, of the abstract. In positing an abstract primacy to one’s experience of the world inpainting – Heron’s proposition, I will argue, opens more doors than it closes. In support of his hypothesis, Heron drew together the terms spacecolour and form – the bedrock of countless claims as to abstraction’s truth – and invoked an, “abstract reality” that painting (including that which is usually taken to be figurative painting) is seen,…

Involvement, Inbetweenness and Abstract Painting

To come to an awareness of painting in the period after abstraction – by which I mean after the emergence and development of abstract painting – is to contend, to a greater or lesser degree, with the idea, language and look of a large assortment of painted objects from the past hundred or so years; dissimilar in form and content. The figurative painter Paul Winstanley goes further, stating that: “It is […] impossible to make paintings of any sort now without an internalised vocabulary of twentieth-century abstraction (2018: 13)”. For him, this is especially apparent in the manner of painting’s particular pictorial arrangements – in the ordering of space – but also in a call to its own condition as object (in respect of its surface/image or object/edge). Together, to Winstanley, these elements serve to: “heighten the metaphysical nature of the painting surface as a reflection of the depicted surfaces and space” (2018: 13). 
Notwithstanding, it is permissible to consider levels of involv…

Auto-biographical Fragment

I was born in Birkenhead; a shipbuilding town in the North West of England on the banks of the river Mersey, close to the stark, melancholic landscapes of North Wales. I trained as a painter and art historian in Liverpool and Manchester, and now live in Leeds. In 2018 I completed a practice-led PhD in Painting at the Royal College of Art, re-considering medium specificity within a contemporary frame. This involved reflecting on the nature of pictures, temporality and surface in respect of both the object and the activity of painting.
Though as a boy I enjoyed drawing, I enjoyed filling-in more. I was exposed to art early, through library books and visits to local galleries. Victorian paintings and reproductions of works by Brueghel, Bosch, Constable, Turner and Monet affected me a great deal, as did works by the Dutch still life painters and the flowers of Fantin Latour. As a teenager I immersed myself in the paintings of Friedrich, Van Gogh, Picasso, Utrillo, De Stael and Bacon, the f…