It may seem surprising, but I spent most of my time at art school pursuing a career as a painter of portraits and the human figure. At the end of Year 2, though, we were presented with an exercise on The Grid. We had the option to do portraits in a series, but I felt that I would have plenty of time for that later. Thinking I would probably not get another chance to do so, I took on the grid as the grid – little knowing what a maze it would turn out to be.
At first I was concerned that I would get boxed in by it, and in response to that I did a number of works attacking the whole concept. Out of a kind of creative Stockholm syndrome, though, I found myself relating more and more to what I was finding.
I’m not a great one for researching what others think is going on in a work. I tend to get distracted by the pretty pictures. I think about what I’m seeing and respond to that. So, without knowing too much about it, I found myself exploring a lot of ground that had already been covered, grappling with the same concepts, but approaching the solutions in my own way, always having to pass my own “So what?” test, which I would characterize more as debilitating than rigorous. But in the end the process set off a cascading series of ideas: about paintings, about materials and processes, and about art itself. I could barely keep up with them.
There is so much to The Grid, but ultimately I want my work to be its own essay on the subject. One of the big changes I can report on here is that the x-y axis, far from dominating everything, just sort of falls away.
Return of the Repressed, 2011
The Grid works