The Materiality of Paint: Ian Davenport, Jason Martin, Rob & Nick Carter, Boo Ritson, Piers Secunda, Matthew Radford and Melanie Comber

7 September - 6 October 2012

This critically engaged group show took as its subject the materiality of paint and its transformative potential. The diverse selection of work centred on the way the artists each explore the traditional limits of the physical properties of paint; pushing the boundaries between the medium, the surface and the mode of application.

Ian Davenport created a site-specific installation work for the exhibition, employing the existing fabric of the building and its architectural nuances as the backbone for his wall painting. By diverting his paintings from the canvas to the wall and floor, Davenport widens the spectrum and draws attention to the material aspect of the painting process.

Jason Martin has always placed the physical qualities of paint at the centre of his practice. Hovering somewhere between minimalism and abstract expressionism, his transformative work stands apart as an evocative homage to the power of paint. The artistic duo Rob and Nick Carter created a new departure in their practice in the form of Unconscious Paintings. The experimental series is a development of the surrealist notion of unconscious painting. Exposed to random activity, the canvasses subvert the traditional relationship between artist and artwork and the limits between paint, canvas and sculpture. Boo Ritson drastically alters the boundaries between paint and surface by literally painting people. Employing the human body as a canvas she applies a pop art colour palette of thick emulsion paint on her sitters’ hair, clothes and skin. As such, the work navigates the boundaries of various mediums: part painting; part performance; part sculpture and existing only as a photographic record.

Matthew Radford removes the effects of gravity in his painting process by working with his canvas flat upon the floor and employing improvised walkways across the surface of the larger pieces. There is a duality at the core of his painting practice between intent and spontaneous accident and between isolation and collective experience. Taking the physical properties of paint to the extreme, Piers Secunda has developed complex systems to make paint behave as a sculptural material. The artist transcends the confines between paint and canvas, ultimately rejecting the traditional constraints of the canvas support without relinquishing the primary material.

Melanie Comber relishes in the physical aspect of creating thick impasto surfaces, creating a battery of marks and gestures by using pottery tools and other improvised molding devices. Every surface is testament to a layering process that sees bright oils buried deep beneath darker, monochromatic tones.