Nick Dawes - Notes on Painting 2006.
Since 1998 I have employed a system of self imposed rules to navigate and structure the activity of making a painting. The idea
originally was to set a limitation on choice, make as few decisions as possible and act upon only those that were absolutely
I thought that if the construction of the work was about a denial of choice then what was left out was as important as what was
left in. Choosing to ignore the endless variety of the colour chart, and remaining neutral and objective towards the subject, I
decided to concentrate on familiar objects that would delineate and control my decisions as a painter.
I discovered that by using ordinary traffic signs as visual object matter I could reduce painting down to its basic component
parts. Limited by a set of standard lines shapes and colours, the paintings could generate themselves, the signs would dictate
how the paintings would be made, what colours should be used, what kind of support they would need, and the material required
to paint them.
I was also interested in the idea that through appropriation I could make a “figurative” painting without reverting to conventional
figuration. Content could be specifically hijacked and re-injected within the realm of the readymade.
Once I knew what to paint it was then a question of how to paint. If the objects on the paintings were prefabricated and mass
produced it seemed accurate to employ similar materials to paint them.
Deploying a craft heavy DIY aesthetic I made the decision to build the paintings from scratch, treating the work equally from
concept to completion so that the same conceptual value would apply to the construction and preparation of the support as to
the painted elements on it.
The same would apply to the use of gloss paint and house painters brushes.
Gloss paint had the right technical properties for a flat no-nonsense method of application, producing a smooth transition
between sign and drip, emphasising the relationship between figure and ground, and drying as both surface and reflection. I also
liked its inherent sense of nostalgia associated with modernist painting from the 1950’s and 60’s.
In the 1990’s a number of painters turned to process as a statement of fact rather than an outpouring of angst, and made
paintings that seemed to concentrate purely on the abstract properties of the material and on the activity of its application.
I realised that by adopting this redundant formalist procedure I could use this method as a component to expand the field,
blurring the boundaries between functionality and abstraction while generating formal difference from the narrowest procedure
By amalgamating process painting with found objects I could physically and conceptually subvert their formal and functional
status, maximise the tension between order and chance, neutralise the opposition between expression and detachment, stress
and remove touch simultaneously, while at the same time collide utilitarian mass culture and high modernist abstraction within
a single gesture.
Lives and works in London
1988-1989 Foundation, Gloucestershire College of Art + Technology
1989-1992 BA Fine Art, Brighton Polytechnic
Grotto - Studio 1.1, London E2: Group show of over 100 artists. 08.12.06 - 14.01.07
Eau Sauvage - Galerie Lucy Mackintosh, Lausanne, Switzerland. 31.03.06 - 22.04.06
Yabadabadoo - Cell Project Space, London, E2. 15.10.05 - 13.11.05
Arts Unwrapped - London Artists’ Open Studios. 02.12.05 - 03.12.05
Ghostdriver - Paintworks, Bath Road, Bristol. 03.09.05 - 14.09.05
Cinderella - 100 Clements Road, London SE16. 17.07.04 - 31.07.04
Ready Steady Go - Three Colts Gallery, London E2. 17.04.04 - 01.05.04
Godzilla - 2/10 Hertford Road, London N1. 25.10.03 - 09.11.03
Guns and Roses - 86 Brick Lane, London E1. 05.07.02 - 21.07.02
Out of Place - Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, Market Cross, Bury St Edmunds. 25.05.02 - 27.06.02
Lend us £100m - 21 Dingley Rd, London EC1. 10.05.02 - 12.05.02
Trailer - 11, 13, 17 Calvert Avenue, London E2. 14.07.01 - 29.07.01
Cinch - 5 Newburgh Street, London W1. 01.12.99 - 31.01.00
Project Space - Great Western Studios, London, W9. 02.12.98 - 03.12.98
Duncan Cargill Gallery - London W10. 10.12.97 - 10.01.98
Jigsaw Art Program, London - Covent Garden, Manchester, Tokyo. 12.09.97 - 12.05.98
Shortlist, Celeste Art Prize 2006
24 Heures, Lausanne, “Londres Sauvage” Boris Senff, 07.04.06
Metro News, Bristol, “Geisterfahrer” Simon Webb. 08.09.05
Time Out, May 8-15, 2002
Contemporary, “Out of Place” Sotiris Kyriacou, May 2002
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