9 - 23 Aug 2019
9 - 23 Aug 2019
‘I gave him my attention really only when he slipped the keys inside the two keyholes, as bright as suns above the dark panels of the door, and kept insisting on their positions.’*
A hollowed out space, extra potential unlocked at the bottom back of a house, cave-like though bright white. Pick up the plastic diamond key-chain; find the way to push the door forward, and inside, wall becomes roof, one side exposed. The painting’s surface within the four walls of canvas is like that of an interior: dust, spills, airiness, condensation. I imagine previous stains left in a garage, a vessel for leaking viscosities of black unknown liquids, glue, damp corners.
I’ve been borrowing keys and getting keys cut, entering other homes to find new temporary places of my own. In another city, the key lies on the table waiting to be given back. This one is like a car key, spliced metal in a smooth black pebble, though it fits into the epitome of a cottage door handle; four screws, longhandled nose, mouth.*
Slow anxiety weighs in a pocket: key into the keyhole, metal bit lost inside the dark opening, looking for the confident twist to glide key into mechanism. I had trouble entering and leaving a studio last summer. I often pretended I had just arrived, returning along the corridor with forced casualness to find ‘the natural gesture’ to open the door. I moved back and forth as if the objects knew something, put my eye to the keyhole, tried to understand where the key would slide into, but it looped around inside, connecting when least expected. Sometimes the tensions in a painting arrive in flow of confidences, transparencies that speak quickly or, are played with for longer, locked into when something in the surface emerges, an opposition between the stillness and the rush.
A keyhole is a tiny entry point from which sometimes you can see both ways, the place where object and eye unlock a potentially unknown space. The paintings are like small openings that require closeness and intimacy. Attempting to be bold, they share vulnerability. Acts of exposure are uncovered in physical layers to reveal an image, a structuring of pigment and fluid that evokes sensations of touch, a tension between autonomous material and its direction, trying to equally seduce and push away. A question of unlocking; how to unlock the emotional content of the painting? Its language uses you, or you use it, to convey privacy of an interior made exterior, walking out into the wilderness, foot on doorway, foot between sky and valley. How to try bring about a different kind of consciousness through how the material acts? What can the qualities of glimmers under see- through black dispersing and seeping, congealing colour do to create resonance? A keyhole for a small sliver of something understood.
1454. Another keyhole: the shallow doorway of Saint John’s house, like an architectural plan, as he leaves to go into the wilderness, where scale is skewed, repeating, and the perception of space becomes more like the way we actually see, or like memory, in its boldly collaged appearance. An experience of entering the unknown is represented:
The landscape unfolds as if from a high point, looking downward, then across, and beyond to the sea, different viewpoints unravelling and fashioned together to form an expanding whole. I dissect the vertigo, the curling structures, textures: pebbles as stars in the ground.
I find solidarity in a story of a woman unable to open her apartment door; the new locks jam, as she knew it would. She cannot find the natural gesture to turn the key. She goes to the extreme to twist harsh metal with her teeth, then submits to being cut-off in the interior while things move in and out of her control. A knock at the door and she opens it easily towards him. Yet, being locked out creates a condition for creativity and change. The handling of the failure becomes productive, breaking through the perceptions she has internalized of how things should be.
*Elena Ferrante, The Days of Abandonment (New York: Europa Editions, 2005) p.61
Photography by Reinis Lismanis