Zero presents a new body of work by Deb Covell in which she explores the sculptural qualities of acrylic paint and investigates its inherent material properties by affording it a central role in her practice. Covell’s new works reference pivotal moments of 20th century abstraction, in particular the non-objective, geometric elements of Suprematism. Works such as Fold 1 and Fold 2 (2013) are akin to Suprematism’s most notable work Black Square (1915) in which Malevich rejected pictorial space. Black Square constituted the “zero of form” for Malevich.
In Zero Covell’s works omit the traditional support of a canvas or board; instead, she explores the malleable properties of paint in a playful process which starts with a rectangular mass of set paint onto which she creates cuts and creases. She then collapses the object into a solitary heap on the floor or suspends it vertically on the wall.
Covell’s works exist as both paintings and sculpture and thus evade the aesthetic autonomy of each individual medium – the central tenet of Modernism – as theorized by Modernist critic Clement Greenberg in the mid 20th century as her works conflate two mediums and therefore eschew “medium specificity”. As such, Covell creates a new visual space in which painting, which is typically a horizontal plane that projects the illusion of three dimensions, becomes a three dimensional sculptural object that defies pictorial illusion.
Deb Covell (MA Fine Art, University of East London, 2002) lives and works in Saltburn, Teesside. Recent exhibitions include North South Divine (2013), WW Gallery, London and Platform A, Middlesbrough; Diamond Geezer (2012), WW Gallery, London; This, That and the Other (2012), Platform A, Middlesbrough; Afternoon Tea (2011), 54th Venice Biennale; and Secret (2011), Royal College of Art, London. Her works are in both private and public collections such as the MIMA Collection. She is represented by Platform A, Middlesbrough.
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