Faye Wei Wei

December 11, 2019

Issac Watamaniuk

December 4, 2019

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More Doors, and Tape

11/29/2019

My assumption about this project was that it would lead to a sort of abstract portrait of the house that I currently occupy and from which I have drawn much of my recent imagery. What I think has occurred, at least so far, shares more with my paintings than I had anticipated. I think what I’ve produced amounts to kind of a very invested sketch, and a jumping off point that charted a logic through upcoming iterations in the same vein. What I didn’t anticipate (at least in part because I thought I would be able to write more in a short month) is that the project would contort so quickly - albeit out of necessity - into more of an interrupted series of observations. I had anticipated this to a degree, simply because of the format; I had charted my course in a series of chunks, room by room, section by section (but of course I haven't really made it that far...). I think what has so far been produced feels kind of like a series of paraphrased quotations; there is an inherently subjective quality to them, and ultimately they sit entirely within the agency offered to them by their description. Everything that I’ve described is as legible as I’ve described it; this is an inherently subjective activity that includes just as much, if not less, as it omits. The descriptive power offered by omission is often just as vital as the details, especially when the details are so clearly and prominently the focus.

 

***

 

Two closed doors are next to one another on a relatively narrow stretch of wall, no wider than eight feet. The one to the left leads to a small closet, the other to a hallway, however this is not immediately obvious except perhaps through a prolonged attention to the relative shifts in lighting throughout the day that might be noticed through the rather large openings under each door, that nevertheless - in spite of their size - offer only suggestions of the spaces that they peak out into. The left door’s frame is  butted directly against its adjacent wall, where the right door’s frame is roughly three inches from its immediate corner’s junction. Furthermore, the doorway on the left is noticeably shorter than the one on the right so that not only do the horizontals of the frames, as well as the tops of the doors themselves, not visually align, but they in fact further accent the slight lean that each door’s horizontal carries away from the centre of the wall - creating a subtle effect from some vantage points that the wall is slightly convex. The doors themselves are of the same style, however the leftmost one has a round, metal doorknob that has been painted white (just like the doors, as well as the frames and the wall for that matter), and the right door has a faceted glass doorknob with some brass elements. The doors are hinged oppositely, so that they open outward from the centre of the wall, swinging into the room. There is a solitary lightswitch between them in the same style as the one immediately outside the bathroom which I previously described - this one not noticeably biased towards any one doorframe, and not showing evidence of any previously installed, larger switchplates. 

 

 

 

***

 

The first way that omission occurs in the work is within the imagery of the various scenes. For the most part, these images are quite solitary, and one way that I try to play with that quality is through what I choose to depict. I’ve mentioned that doors and windows often find their way into my work, and I think that beyond their physical parallels with paintings, they offer very tangible ways to contrast the possibilities of passage within a closed space. A painting of a door and a painting of a doorway offer very different opportunities to the viewer, while still discussing the same physical space. Sometimes the door is more interesting than what’s behind it. 

 

***

 

Along the walls in the studio, there is often a collection of various lengths of green painter’s tape. Presently, aside from those small pieces used to append various images and ephemera to the walls, there is a collection of longer strips clustered in one area. Five of these strips are nearly two inches wide, all from the same roll of tape. There is a sixth piece that is much shorter than the others, that is only one inch wide and from a different roll. An additional strip of the wider tape has fallen from the wall. It is curled on itself and is slightly crumpled, leaning against the wall where a desk sits below the other six segments. The wider tape is a relatively cool pale green, albeit still within the classic near-fluorescent range of any typical roll of such tape, while the thinner is of a slightly warmer hue. The large, wide strips of tape are fastened to the wall vertically; from left to right: the leftmost sits much lower on the wall than the others, then three in a row, followed by a larger space and the final wide piece. The smaller, thinner strip sits at an upward diagonal to the right of the leftmost wide one, and directly below the grouping of three in the middle. The ends of each segment of tape have started to curl away from the wall. I change the arrangement of these strips fairly regularly.

 

 

 

***

 

Another thing that has found its way into my work from time to time has been green painter’s tape. I’ve used it in various images as a compositional tool, a reference back to the studio, or as evidence of the studio’s activity - as masks or makeshift rulers and guides. It shares a curious duality of purpose with the doors and windows. On one hand it is a masking tool, and on the other, through its brilliant colouration, it functions to highlight. This is no doubt an important element of the product’s design; the tape is brilliant green so that one can easily identify and remove it once it has served its masking purposes. Nevertheless, this is ultimately a masking tool that highlights what has been masked, which on its own, conceptually, is very interesting. Unlike other masking tools meant to obscure or distract, the tape highlights the fact that it is covering something. This is a material designed to physically occlude, and visually highlight simultaneously. 

 

The images that I produce (and many other paintings for that matter), seem to echo this tendency. My focus in any given painting generally revolves around some idiosyncrasy in a fairly quotidian environment; the work requests a certain attention, and directs it towards a category that is largely characterized by its assumption, so common that it often exists as background noise - that is, relatively invisible stuff (to be ham-fisted, these places are masked by our familiarity with them). That’s not to say that my intention is to simply highlight things that are somewhat occluded, but there is a lovely possibility in the sort of functional bifurcation and play offered by painting that I really appreciate and am drawn to, that on some level happens to find formal similarity in painter’s tape. It is a tool for painters, and it strangely echoes some of painting’s qualities.

 

***

 

The second way that I think that omission is present in the work, and that for me contrasts with the detail-centric and perhaps initially totalizing implication of images that employ more rigorous attention the the description of minutia is in their composition and vantage point. This is by no means individual to the paintings that I make, but it is an important element to consider when looking at paintings - especially those that are observed in some manner from the real world; the means by which the world inside the boundaries of the painting is described is as important as those boundaries. This is perhaps more of a personal focus than an element of the work itself, as this aspect of painting can largely be assumed in most any work; however, I like to be mindful of it, and the fact of my implication within it.

 

Lately, I consider the possibility for the images that I produce to co-exist with and co-inform one another to be more and more important to the work. I've always been occupied with the activity of noticing and noting, and I feel that the two avenues from which this practice takes its notes - my immediate surroundings, and the work that has come before - are a way of introducing an at least tenuous biographical quality. It is never my intention to talk about myself overtly within any one painting, but I believe that there is a strong value to the possibility to relate to these images through sentiment - a sort of quiet solidarity of existence within the world. I often say that my paintings are way of talking about myself without talking about myself, and I think that this very subtle play - behind the detail but still within the boundaries of the paintings and the work’s project - is the way that I most tangibly attempt this. 

 

 

 

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