‘Painting with White’

Since the early twentieth century artists have been focusing on the use of only white when painting. Monochromes have been key to artists creating abstract work. The Tate modern has a room called Painting with White which has been curated by Tanya Barson. The Tate says:

‘Using only white might seem, at first, to take this approach(abstract painting) to extremes. Without image, and apparently pure, the white monochrome appears to resist meaning and interpretation. For some people, it has come to symbolise everything that is believed to be elitist and difficult about modern and contemporary art’

‘Ledger’ 1982 by Robert Ryman http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03550

I think that there is a point to be said surrounding the accessibility of work which reaches new levels of abstraction. This is something I have become more concerned with in my own practise. Whilst my aim is to restrict the reading of an image so the viewer has to really stretch to view the work, I want a remnant of the original image to be felt, either spiritually or eerily through the subject of the hidden image being revealed in text.

However, there is also a coded symbolism to the colour white which explores religious, spiritual and poetic connotations which explore purity, hope and meditation. I think that when dealing with a loaded subject, such as human rights- limiting the palette and vision to such extremes could be very successful in communicating a gospel message of hope.

‘Achrome’ 1958 by Piero Manzoni
‘White plane white’ 1974 by Bram Bogart

When looking at ‘Spiral Movement’ by┬áMary Martin, I have started to consider how the paper itself could become the work. The photographic images which I print all are white on the underside, therefore I could create images by using the paper itself (the weight of the photography very much still being a part of the piece but completely concealed from view). I would like to explore this experimentally first, and consider using the ‘window’ symbol as a structure to create sculpturally.

‘Spiral Movement’ 1951 by Mary Martin http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00586

Bibliography:

Please see: White White White

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