Painting Over (part one) ~ 4 - 27 march 2011
studio 1.1
london e2


present show 

past shows 


gallery details 

  ‘The Anxiety of Influence’ or ‘What to Do...’


In the spring of 2010 we presented 16 painters in a show called 'Painting Over', subtitled 'Painting for a Reason (thanks to Johnny Bristol/the Osmonds, no thanks to Boyzone)'.

The exhibition was offered as a very personal overview addressing the problem of painting today - taking it for granted there might still be one. In no sense a definitive statement, but a set of suggestions. Provisional lenses through which to view three idiosyncratically partitioned groups of painters.

As we said at the time: 'We have isolated a small patch of contemporary painting, the one we're most familiar with and that means most to us. in each group there's abstract, abstraction, and figuration - those divisions are not our present concern.' And without any disrespect to the featured artists we also quoted Cage. 'I have nothing to say and I am saying it. And that is poetry as I need it.'

We're now delighted to present an expanded view of the first of those groups under the heading 'The Anxiety of Influence'. Both of which terms deserve an explanation, no doubt. The quote is from literary theorist (and arch-bombast) Harold Bloom who defines as anxiety the relationship authors might have towards those who precede them: a (mis)understanding which leads to a fruitful (re)working. A question of translation much more than imitation, rather as Godard needed to misunderstand classic Hollywood of the fifties to transmute it into the sixties' Nouvelle Vague.

In no way a question of nervousness, the anxiety here is exactly the one Picasso talked of as the main thing that matters to us in Cezanne: obsession, maybe, the urge to get it right, possibly without ever knowing what the 'it' is. None of these painters start with a set of assumptions that they can resolve.

And leaving aside (at least for the time being) 'obsession', there's the search for matter as well as manner, and the crucial struggle for the two to fit. There's an element of self-consciousness, in the awareness of a tension between what a painting normally does, and what it can be made to do; a battle that can clearly be waged over any terrain at all, where issues of abstract/figuration matter less - don't matter at all. Imitation, referentiality, irony, none of these are in question - the 'influence' at stake involves the artist's relation to paint and to painting, as well as to painting's past.

Maybe there's a luxury painting enjoys, alongside the novel: precisely its state of permanent crisis. Now when anything at all can be a painting (except a drawing) and anything at all can be a drawing (even a painting), painting's so-called crisis, is quite obviously the mark of the medium’s vitality.'


For more information or images contact:
Michael Keenan on 07952 986 696