2 - 21 October 2013
Gili Tal was in born 1983 in Tel Aviv.
She lives and works in Berlin.
A conversation between Gili Tal and James Epps
James Epps: How did you come to the title, “Gib’s Mir”?
Gili Tal: Nick was discussing presenting archive/source material and the process of going through it and then the question of coming out of the other end. It made us think of tracts etc which essentially produce/extrude something in a different format from how they entered. There were also ideas floating around of this work offering up all this material but in a way that was slightly intrusive or verging on aggression. ‘Gib’s Mir’ means ‘give it to me’ in German, it’s also the title of a D.A.F song and sometimes it’s written on the bins around the city in an annoyingly convivial way. It seemed to strike the right tone in this regard, it’s slightly passive aggressive. In relation to mine, I liked that it might help to convey a certain sarcasm in relation to the mark-making in the work and felt like some kind of a taunt or a dare. The other aspect of this taunt idea was that when Nick invited me to do the show with him he said he that he wanted to see what I would do….so give it to me…
JE: Is it important for viewers of the exhibition to see this as two separate artist’s work?
GT: Yes, I think so. Although there was discussion about what we would each show and how this might be read together, it was also important for both of us that there was space for the work not to be clipped too much by the imposition of an overarching theme/narrative, which would feel a bit false in this situation.
JE: How did you come to start using the suckers to attach the paintings to the wall?
GT: These smudgy/smeary paintings have been developing in my studio for a while. They started on shiny white A4 paper. The Plexiglas seemed to make the funny, sardonic aspect of the marks a bit more obvious as opposed to them looking like straight up Ab Ex or something. It also gave them a much more clingy, congealed feeling which was important …. I had been trying to think of how to hang them for ages and nothing seemed sympathetic and then came across these suction cups in a shop somewhere and sort of knew that that was what would activate them because then the painting becomes this multi-tentacled sea creature like body etc. The action of pushing it onto the wall also then gets contained as a very dumb and heavy handed, sort of lazy aggressive gesture… It all fed into the kind of things I’d been reading and working with: - previous work had included some text from Marx’s ‘Capital’, which contains a lot of imagery about vampires, cyborg type imagery and this sort of multi-faceted unquenchable thirst…
JE: Why have you chosen to work in a series, and how does repeating the imagery and forms affect the viewer’s experience?
GT: I liked thinking of them as one continuous body and there was also something funny about making these kind of paintings composed of supposedly expressive marks ad infinitum.
JE: The imagery of the women’s eyes and the kind of colours and gesture are reminiscent of fashion magazines and make-up samples, why did you use this particular aesthetic and imagery?
GT: The pink immediately reads as bodily and for me started out in terms of these ideas about congealed labour and bringing that into sharper relief in a slightly lame and heavy handed attempt at resistance that everyone knows probably won’t work and will inevitably be co-opted as quite stylish anyway… these kind of marks I would normally associate with quite macho painting also. Made pink, smeary and reduced to finger painting scale it seemed to become ultra fem cliché taken to a degree that became a sarcastic retort. In this sense I like that the marks look a bit ticklish….
The collage elements are taken from fashion magazines and continue from paste ups I have been showing of models with one eye cut out that look like they might also be winking back at the viewer….so in the OUTPOST paintings there might be either pairs of these winking eyes in conversation with one another or people wearing shades as a sort of joke on the idea of offering some kind of protection from the deluge around…. The expressions and placement of the collage elements became really important in terms of activating these bodies normally gazed on; - they become like a series of female spies…
JE: You’ve spoken in the past about making nonchalant works, what is the particular motivation behind this and how possible is it to genuinely achieve this?
GT: I’m not sure if it’s possible to genuinely achieve this. I guess what interests me is the amount of effort it takes to create a feeling of ease and what ends up leaking out at the edges. What guides the mark making is this sense of swimming against the tide, trying really really hard and really obviously to keep things civilised or tasteful, which renders the end product ridiculous already…I think that in general, the interest in this idea of nonchalance or casualness comes from thinking about the tone of advertising or packaging or even the way political rhetoric might be conveyed. Often there is this level of totally breezy convivial chat which masks the actual seriousness of the ideology that’s present once scrutinized…
JE: You described the paintings and images within them as working like a series of screens, why have you come to use these particular devices?
GT: The marks form a sort of deluge. They are quite comic but there’s also a violence or something more insidious to them. This extends to the collage elements that are cut into and applied in quietly brutal ways. On the Plexiglas they started to remind me of car windscreens after a motorway journey… the collage elements thematise this and play with it as they are either a pair of eyes cut into and injured or covered by shades which stand to offer a knowingly pointless attempt at protection.
2 - 21 October 2013
Nicholas Byrne was born in 1979 in Oldham.
He lives and works in London.
A conversation between Nicholas Byrne and James Epps
James Epps: How did you come to the title, “Gib’s Mir”?
Nicholas Byrne: There is D.A.F song with the same name Gili sent to me, and ‘Give it to me’ holds well with the archival / source material aspect I wanted to open up with my piece in the exhibition.
JE: Is it important for viewers of the exhibition to see this as two separates artist’s work?
NB: Definitely, it is not a collaboration, although we emailed and talked in the lead up about works, they’re autonomous, Gili’s work is on the wall, my work is on the floor.
JE : Why have you chosen the catalogues “Who Chicago” and “Painting as a weapon, progressive Cologne 1920-33” as reference points for this exhibition?
NB: Both streams of painting reconstruct images of the body, like with the ambiguous way Christina Ramberg’s figures are structured from clothes. I’ve been looking at this material over five years and I don’t understand it, my work in the show makes a reading of it with black and white copies. Essentially there’s a collection of printed images representing these catalogues so the works featured will be left quite open and undone from the original groupings.
Both groups are framed as idiosyncratic and maintain strength from being regional- Victor Musgrave describes the Chicago Imagists of the late 60’s/ 70’s as Non-New York, anti-European, lone explorers, overshadowed by East/ West coast USA and European-orientated artists, and compares them in Britain to Bacon and Edward Burra for their unique positions. The basis of the Cologne catalogue is laid out as a celebration of the aesthetic achievements of three politically radical artists based in the city during the inter-war period.
JE: How important is it for viewers to understand the context of these two groups? Or is it more important to understand your own relationship to these artists and the work they produced?
NB: I’m not making a cultural studies argument, these sources are remote to me and it’s significant that I’ve not experienced the works in the flesh – just as images over a few years. So there is a torsion between the assumption that through showing source material something more authentic or revealing will happen than in an original work. With secondary sources, generalisation and classifications are made, with the groupings of individuals etc. being absorbed. In this there is also a pouring inward towards painting as a genre. Transcribing it into parts is a cerebral thing, passing it through the body, a way of thinking in terms of processing and organising something that could be an aspirational class of object.
JE: Why have you decided to effectively present them as one body, rather than any clear distinction between the two?
NB: The proposal for what I wanted to do here came from some drawings that are in the show on tracing paper, and the print-outs are shown alongside these. The drawings came about as a tool to make paintings, they weren’t intended to be seen when I made them, now they feel decomposed in a pleasurable way I like having them around and I wanted to experiment with showing them in public. I was thinking about archival materials and sources that build up, of this large mass of material being consumed as a stream of consciousness.
JE: Do you see this source material as a finished work in the same way as a painting, or is this something more fluid with potential to change?
NB: Yes this has potential to change but so do finished paintings.
JE: From speaking to you and Gili, the way the source material exists was described as being passive aggressive, can you explain what is meant by this?
NB: The portfolios that usually hold drawings are instrumental in displaying everything on the floor in a scatter. I guess source material is quite internal so there’s a sort of softer aggression there in the revealing action.