Coinciding with a trio of museum exhibitions that reveal his exceptional legacy, Lisson Gallery presents its seventh solo show of Latham’s work, focusing on an aspect of his practice that revolutionised the artist’s outlook: the spray painting.
Far more than just a medium, spray painting was a discovery that proved revelatory. Latham acquired a spray gun in 1954 from a local ironmonger shop and later that year executed his first piece with the device: a mural in the home of Clive Gregory and Anita Kohsen, two scientists whose concept of ‘psychophysical cosmology’ – a theory that aimed at unifying mind and matter – was to have a profound impact on the artist’s own philosophy. For Latham, the qualities of spray paint opened new approaches to form by breaking through the impasse contemporary painting had reached and allowing the convergence of art and science: “It destroys the picture plane in a legitimate way where contemporaries were at such pains to establish that plane,” he later explained. “It is both abstract and referential in ‘image’. It has a variable time-scale where the orthodox approach was very limited; it is anti-scale, where contemporaries were obsessed with the effect of large-scale presentations; it can be ‘read’ in several ways, as, a mathematics and as a memory trace.”