The title of the show - ‘Hold Your Tongue’ is a figurative expression, not meant to be understood literally, meaning to be silent. In the context of this exhibition, the title alludes to the problematic relationship between painting and language — specifically the current mode of viewing/interpreting artworks, and the tendency to project or read projected meaning (assumed and speculated) onto artworks. This leads to an uncomfortable feeling that labels, intending to be helpful, often operate conversely and generative literal interpretations; telling the viewer what they are looking at, and worse; how to look.‘Hold Your Tongue’ hints at how language can distract and detract — how the verbal can undercut the visual.
Countering the oft heard question, ‘but what does it mean?’ - The title also sets itself against the expectation of painting to tell all. If these paintings are supposed to speak for themselves, we will be left waiting in vain. Like a dual-purpose command, ‘Hold Your Tongue’ instructs both the viewer and the painting itself to remain silent.
It was via digital, image based platforms that require nothing other than looking - that the artists encountered each other’s work. They were able to connect through a shared appreciation and understanding of the medium - an understanding that was purely visual, perceptual and sensorial.
What this reveals is the potential of painting, as an art, to transcend geographical and linguistic limitations. Our first spoken language (mother tongue) may different, but our painting language is shared. Painting allows us to overcome conventional barriers when attempting to communicate.
This exhibition is essentially about a crisis in looking. With so much attention given to external content being used to explain what painting ‘means’, ‘Hold Your Tongue’ strives to test the possibilities of perception and realign painting as a position which is primarily visual, experienced and felt. We are instructed to look. These paintings are still and mute. Seen but not heard.