AboutPainting: Pulled, Stretched, Revealed brings together three artists whose works are intended to be actively explored. In painting the focus tends to be on a single pictorial surface, whether representational or totally abstract. However, in the work of Simon Callery and Jan Maarten Voskuil the interior, structure and reverse of the canvas are as important as the picture plane, and the composition invites active engagement by the viewer. In Alexis Harding's work paint crumples and hangs from panels or slides to the floor corrupting any notion of a conventional picture plane. All three artists see themselves as painters, rooted in and building on this history, yet as painting becomes more physical it can be understood in sculptural terms. The viewer is compelled to move around work, to kneel and peer inside it, or bend and examine its path towards the floor. Subverting conventional modes of display the exhibiting artists abandon the traditional eye level to engage with the gallery space from floor to ceiling.
Informed by contact with archaeological excavation sites, Simon Callery's canvases are cut open to reveal the interior body of the work, or hang at disjointed angles, exposing their internal supporting structures. These are not literal mappings of trenches, pits or gullies, but works which parallel the process of exploration undertaken on site. Frustrating any idea of a single viewpoint or split-second visual encounter, Callery's paintings encourage the viewer to examine the inner working of his paintings, to take time to look inside and behind them. I felt that contemporary painting was broadly functioning in the same way as all the mass media images that surround us in everyday life. What I am trying to do is create an experience of looking at painting that more actively engages the senses. Funnily enough, the clues that really highlighted this imbalance in painting grew out of an awareness of how we respond to landscape."