The title ‘20cm from the ground’ denotes a height of a painting when installed in a painters studio, lower than a usual gallery or museum hang. More than the connotation to the process of painting, 20cm represents the transformative experience of both the painter at work and the beholder of their painting: the feeling of being lifted from the ground, becoming lost in another world, an empathetic connection.
Artists in the exhibition are painters in the traditional sense of working with a usually rectangular canvas or fabric onto which they apply, or erase, a pictorial, albeit abstract image. Throughout the works in the exhibition there is a preoccupation with marks, especially those that appear spontaneous, even clumsy or imperfect. While some paintings, such as Valérian Goalec’s employment of a robot to paint for him, and Antonio Ballester Moreno and Peter Mohall’s investigations into almost inhuman marks that are repetitional, most investigate a more human, fluid and freeform of painterly style.
￼Jana Schröder has described the marks she makes as ‘pure form’: the result of the arm let loose in its socket to create a gesture that seems to replicate a common doodle. This impulse to draw a natural stroke appears widespread in contemporary painting. Contrasted with the confined and considered mechanical marks, the group of painters present polar expressions that could be considered as a response to technologically mediated current affairs.
Despite Duchamp’s vision for a post-pictorial art, and his own abandonment of painting to focus on the power of thought, the medium has remained presiding form, critically, visually and economically. Painting now exists in post-history where content and meaning has plateaued amongst the overload of visual stimulants the modern world engages with daily.
For the exhibition many of the artists were ‘discovered’ through Instagram, and painting, usually a one sided medium, has found an aide in the image sharing medias. ‘20cm from the ground’ presents this plateau of painters 20cm up, scrutinising painting in the 21st century not for their technical skills but for their ability to think and reflect abstractly upon our contemporary reality. The prevalent expression from these artists relates back to the self and the act of creation, whether it was by robotic arm or their own, the individual’s mark, as an extension of their thought, mind and body, which ultimately traverses physical space.
Thank you to the galleries Rolando Anselmi, Björkholmen Gallery, Meessen De Clercq, The Goma, Luce, and T293 for their support.