What strikes me when looking at these works is the role the tape plays. If you think of the tape the same way as you might the back of the stretcher or the sides of the painting, then the artwork itself consists only in the colour reflecting off the canvas. The holy grail of abstraction – the completely flat painting – has been achieved. It’s not physically possible, of course, because the colour requires a vehicle. Just as the canvas requires a way to be fixed flat. The fact that the tapes that create the work also obscure the work, and casts a shadow on it, serves to highlight the bind we are in, living in the real world but always orienting ourselves toward an imaginary one.
This isn’t the whole story. My first uses for reflective colour were as a way of flipping the painting and the wall. I was looking for a way of creating an absence with a shape, and one way to do that was to do something with the wall behind it. Using reflective colour I was able (conceptually, at least) to get closer to ‘pure’ abstraction. This was in reaction to a series of painterly works I’d done, in which everything I painted could be read as something. There were people swimming in the surf and dogs riding skateboards, so I found myself trying to somehow paint nothing. I employed random quadritalerals to further dispense with representation, only realizing a long time later that the very shapes I was creating were still representations – of random quadritalerals.
The next way that reflective colour suggested itself was as a way of getting to the insides of the human subject – of representing the psychology behind a face in a portrait. I experimented with cutting canvas and turning it over, opening it out to reveal the colour below. The limitations of this process carried their own meanings, of revealing and concealing, of necessity and possibility, of materiality and light, and although not characteristic of any particular psychology, or perhaps because of this, these themes became the stuff of the work.
As well as producing reflective colour, it was suggested to me to hand-paint these effects, which I did using masking tape and thin oils. In the process I observed what the masking tape itself was doing, curling around itself with its hits of colour. There is more about this in my notes about cotton tape, but it was out of a desire to capture something of what I was seeing with these discarded tapes that I tried using cotton tape, and this lent itself again to a whole different way of working.