Notes for RB
In Studio 446 there are four walls, a steel door that leads into the hallway, a vent that sits above the door passing air, sound and some light into the space, and a fluorescent lamp that hangs from the ceiling. There is no window and everything has been painted white.
Space as utility. Space as subdivision, a blank, bounded and rentable unit in which time seems to have been suspended. There is no movement. Spend a day in Studio 446 and you may not notice that nothing changes.
I lean an early study you did for these paintings against one of the studio’s four walls. The study depicts a grid in shallow perspective, a series of parallel lines recede off into a distance that stretches out beyond the topmost edge of the canvas. The grid changes directions at its edges, heading off at an angle. Three heavy, languid, figures float across the grid.
Sitting in Studio 446, I stop and look at the study. Walls unfold, depth appears, movement flickers. If I can perceive it then I can access it, I can walk into the picture. Space and visibility combine to create movement. Movement brings space to life.
There are no clouds in LA. Day after day, the air is warm, dry and comfortable and the sky is an unceasingly flat, middling blue.
Somewhere, buried in my email, is an image by Da Vinci that you sent me. A thousand marks in pencil, filling the page with clouds that twist, turn, billow and rage. Trawling through our old emails, looking for that image, I found this excerpt from one of Da Vinci’s diaries that I sent you.
“"If the painter wishes to see beauties to fall in love with, he is master of producing them; and if he wishes to see monstrous things to terrify, or clownish and ridiculous things, or things that are truly moving, he is lord and god thereof.”
This makes me think that the challenge that you’ve set yourself with these paintings is not the manipulation of space and light, but rather to make space and light speak.
Every room is more or less the same. Walls, a door, maybe a window. Over time and with intention, the room may acquire a function. With modification, that basic, malleable room - same as every other - becomes a bedroom, a kitchen, a space for a child to play, a bathroom.
Slowly Studio 446 is taking on function, a table, a chair, an extension cable, a power board and that study in oil, leaning on the wall. I imagine that Studio 446 is the same as every other room we’ve ever occupied and the grid in the study is the very same grid that has appeared over and over again in your images.
Space as repetition. Space as an attribute open for manipulation. Between the malleability of the room and that grid of yours, there are the properties of the module, the characteristics that belong to each element on its own. Then there are the properties that belong to the structure that brings each element together, relating them either by force or by implication. At the end of it all, there are the effects that are produced by the whole.
You started the studies that led to this work in the studio in Sommerville, which like Studio 446 was a windowless room that we painted white. A malleable unit of space in which you sat at a desk, or on the floor, making marks, combining light, colour, form and movement in order to activate the potential dormant in ordinary vision.
It’s easy to get lost in the corridors that lead to Studio 446. The logic by which the landlord has filled the generous proportions of this concrete-framed industrial building - endless corridors of identical, evenly spaced doors - fogs over memory and confuses orientation.
I’m travelling through this endless corridor and that inexhaustible grid of yours when I meet a digression, a turn of the corner, a door opens behind my shoulder, another room, a new view. A path may be linear by necessity but we can still multiply time and space within a circumscribed sequence.
Talking with you on the phone in the days leading up to this show, you tell me that you’ve come to realise that glass is a means to an end, a way of making things up. The distortions it produces in the form of reflections allowing you to re-remember everything that you’ve ever seen.
Through the glass, every encounter - old and new - increases an awareness of the different potentialities in people, places and things.
Ivan Ruhle, 2019