"How far can one's hand stretch out, until it reaches the edge of reality?" Archytas
Extension & Motion, is the first solo exhibition in France by British born artist Keith Hopewell, exploring the boundaries of contemporary colour language in an age of digitisation, through a new series of gestural paintings. Each work is conceived with a minimalist palette of either two or three colours, as Keith physically obliterates each surface with the bombardment of primal marks, ultra fine lines, points and chromatic luminosity, building up morphic fields transmitting at different spatial frequencies. Hopewell’s past work is predominantly about the transformation of materials, and sound whilst, allowing the process of activity and performative elements to become visible, through a synthesis of deconstruction/re-arrangement of surface and object. Notable work includes his reality charged pieces, where he incorporated painting with sculptural objects, such as steel security fences, and wire mesh, to re-orientate us and affect our perception, due to the parallax nature created by the two planes. In this new show, Hopewell's use of interspersed colour invokes physiological effects, and time delays, through the use of subjective colour, simultaneous and successive contrast, and also the assimilation effects of Von Bezold, where the multitude of point and line is worked across the compositions at high and low spatial frequencies.
There is some reflection back to Hopewell's earlier interest in digital printer marks and CMYK, but the work in this exhibition appears to be more about the human touch, and the performative elements of painting, in an era described by Rosalind Krauss as being a post-medium condition. In an attempt to understand such a condition, Hopewell's objective here, is to find solutions that enable painting to reach out beyond itself, and establish a self-redefinition to determine where the edge is, or locate a central nexus, in the midst of today's massive image circulation. To question paintings specificity, in a search to find any new sustainability for such a medium, is to flow off this tension and try to both regulate or de-regulate it, by embracing painting as performative time. What we are seeing here, is the residue of events, the echoes of action and refraction, linger like the absent colours that merely exist objectively for the eye only.
For Hopewell, the essence in the act of painting is located in the movement of the body, in the stretching out of the hand, to communicate his internal mental cognition onto the fabric of the external landscape. A sort of turning outward, what is not visible at the beginning of the process. If painting can mark time, then each mark here seemingly cancels out time. In the liminal moment resulting from the repetitive application of line upon line, he is able to deliver an explicit level of accuracy of straight vectors, not normally achievable by a hand in motion. In fact, the use of the spray medium in these works, questions the very idea of human touch, due to the anamorphic nature of spray, and its release of pressurised paint through a valve system. Theres a sort of refraction at work in his ritualistic process, like an unknowable reality, passing obliquely through the interface between one medium and another. This direct presence of activated mind architecture, resonating from the body to form a composition on the flat plane, echoes George Berkeley's notion; "Nothing can exist without a mind to perceive it, the external world must exist within the mind of god." Along with the harmony and contrast of spatial colour interspersions, this exhibition is really about reaching a point of purity, a sensory or meditative experience, where we can interpret painting with what he believes has the possibility of outliving itself at future points in time.
"Locke & Descartes became convinced that the knowledge that comes to us through the senses is deceptive. Behind what we perceive as colours, sounds, and odours, nothing exists but extension & motion. Or at least, the substance of reality was believed to lie therein..." Claude levi-Strauss