DAVID MICHEAUD ‘Terra Nullius’

2 – 26 November

In his second solo show with studio1.1 London David Micheaud continues his exploration of space, real or imagined, with paintings whose numinous surfaces go further into the unknown than any manned spacecraft. Near imperceptible shifts in colour or tone hold time at bay, space in abeyance. Fundamentally it’s a question of de-stabilisation – of scale, of tone, of subject. What subject? The horizon line where the bedroom wall meets the ceiling? Nothing is certain except the act of looking – seek and you will be not necessarily any the wiser but more profoundly aware of the search. From Charles Sheeler to ‘The Forbidden Planet’. There’s no place like someone else’s – we were never in Kansas. This is New Found Land. But we are not the first. In the old Commonwealth Institute (which no longer exists) there was a favourite diorama of mine – it depicted the Portuguese discovering St Helena, (their three masted ship about to make landfall) … seen through a gap in the trees… above the beach upon which they are about to set foot… on the uninhabited island…

There’s trompe-l’oeil going on, that’s for certain; but the eye that’s deceived still isn’t seeing what’s plainly in front of it. The titles point that out, for once not making the tiniest effort to obfuscate, add a fictitious depth to the 2-D surface. This horizon we’re looking at: that’s ‘Bedroom Wall Meets Ceiling’.Though there’s a better case for seeing a horizon below Venus, an easily identified tiny white dot high up to the left. However, this is ‘Venus in Relation to a Bit of Blue’, (not to mention the tiny greenish sliver separating them), where above a solid deepest indigo band, reading from the bottom right, a bright streaked yellow rises up, shading into and finally becoming green. A similar shift between two colours happens in ‘Between Dan Flavin’, where presumably just beyond either side of the painting we’d see, if such a thing was possible, two brightly and differently coloured fluorescent tubes. And how about ‘Copper Roof at Dusk’? A dirty brown stripe lit on the lower left by an offscreen light source, above it dark indigo, rising and lightening, in the middle of which there’s a floating azure parallelogram. Couldn’t be more exactly what it says on the tin. Couldn’t take you more by surprise. In these scrupulous, mysterious, glowing paintings there’s a conjurer’s hand at work.



and from the artist’s notes…

title-Terra Nullius suggests uncolonised land, an empty and untouched wilderness… Bielefeld town that doesn’t exist in Germany… Shazam shared experience film that doesn’t exist… Gasometer… Vorticism. Paul Nash. There was an element of Surrealism in all his work, but his best paintings were rooted in the real world. “I was hunting the sky for what I most dreaded in my own imagining. It was a white flower – the rose of death, the name the Spaniards gave to the parachute.”

Oscar Wilde – the beauty and wonder of fog didn’t exist before painters… “Painting has nothing to do with thinking, because in painting thinking is painting. Thinking is language – record-keeping – and has to take… Richter, look up rest of quote. Utopia Greek ou-topos meaning no place no where

The lone figure, like the iconic ancient mariner or the men standing alone against vast natural landscapes in Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings, animated Romantic work, and scientists sometimes became those solitary symbols: William Wordsworth described Newton in The Prelude as a Romantic mariner himself, “voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”

That’s what fiction, in all forms, does. I cherish seeing the world from a rarer angle: the small-vastness of things before skydiving, the way scuba-diving at night feels like spacewalking on Earth, the way our own mundane-sublime planet may seem an alien landscape from the right angles. But we cannot forget this world when we wake from those dreams.  Gabrielle Bellit literary hub sept 2017

Notes from Orhan Pamuk- huzun Sufis ‘spiritual anguish we feel because we cannot get close enough to Allah, because we cannot do enough for Allah in this world’ p81 read more The Anatomy of Melancholy by Burton… Tristesse Levi-Strauss… Huzun and tristesse both suggest a communal feeling, an atmosphere, a culture shared by millions. Huzun is not a feeling that belongs to the outside observer p93