Chris Newman, 13-002, 2013 | Gesso, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 120 x 150 cm
The restlessness, the rawness, the mysteriousness of his works are based on a field of appealing disharmony that captures one's attention, keeps one searching and sensing. The beauty of these images is not to be found on the surface but rather in the depth of the artistic methodology. The British painter, composer, musician, poet, performance and video artist Chris Newman (* 1958) has been living in Berlin since 1996 and now has his first solo exhibition at Alexander Ochs Galleries.
Lines, stripes, script and surfaces are brought into an unstable juxtaposition and superposition. The canvases are primed with gesso or red wine with seeming carelessness, always leaving a part of the raw material visible. The graphite marks that are often near the edge of the image are in direct correspondence with the frugal impasto paint applications, even if this is not immediately visible.
Newman counts the words in Henrik Ibsen's drama 'Ghosts' and has these numbers assigned to twenty-one colours and colour combinations. Far from any idea of symbolism and psychology, the artist measures and makes his marks on the canvas with rational calculation and selects the respective colour palette as 'created by Ibsen '. It is the result of a synthetic method that is only the means to an end. Through this, Newman rids himself of responsibility for his composition and consciously hands over the control.
The paintings are created in the limited space of his studio apartment. This is essential in view of the physicality, which determines the development process and is closely related to Newman's performance work and compositions. Newman takes a large distance from the canvas, in order to then reach out with the brush, several times, sometimes dancing. He paints with both hands. He does all of this blind, with closed eyes, but not to distance himself from the outside world but rather, as Newman says, to be 'closer to the world' in order to lose 'civil control'. He works very quickly to remain unbiased and to undermine any control by means of self-observation. The process described here is a daily exercise for the artist, for his 'pilgrimage' as he himself has put it.
Each of his paintings depicts the repetitive experiment, the exact moment of finding the counterpoint that is necessary to create a painting on the canvas. It is exactly that amount that the process requires and it is no less that gives purpose to the method.
To find the beauty in Chris Newman's paintings, one does not need to know the background of his work. It is even less required to identify any potential remnants of narratives. It is a sense of body, a genuine unconscious and the dismissal of rational control that makes Newman's works so lively and filled with deeper beauty.
Through this, the familiar concept of beauty is questioned.
Friday, 26 July 2013 | 7-9 pm
Introduction by curator and author Jan Hoet, Ghent, Belgium
The artist will be present.