Tom Palin: elegies in grey

Palin, Tom (2018) Tom Palin: elegies in grey. [Show/Exhibition]


Elegies in Grey allowed me to explore, in an unusual setting (the primary wall of the main gallery space is curved), a number of concerns pertinent to my more recent painting practice. It was also an opportunity for me to exhibit a large number of small paintings on wood, from a series I have been engaged with for eight years: paintings that had, in the case of about one quarter of the works, been exhibited previously, but not together, or in such close proximity. In particular, I was able to test ideas to do with configuration and grouping in the run up to my PhD viva voce examination at the Royal College of Art. The exhibition took place in two rooms, and I separated the framed works from the unframed (save for a recent unframed work on aluminium which stayed with the framed works on wood), with the latter, much larger group of paintings, displayed on an inverse rotunda wall. In adopting the Salon-style hang for the small, unframed paintings I was able to present something of considerable scale, and yet retain an intimacy of connection between the works themselves (to be viewed from near and far), and between the spectator and the works. Central to my practice is the notion of a duality between painting and picture, by which I mean the illusionistic and material aspects of painted objects. This oscillation permits me to remain attentive to both narrative and formal considerations, in so far as the painting occupies two spaces: it is therefore here and there (present and, at the same time, absent or becoming). The opportunities this affords me play themselves out within the processes of making paintings, but also in displaying the results of that making: the objects that bear witness to those processes. To connect, disconnect, pull apart and draw close is not, then, merely the curator’s privilege. This was a coming together: a gathering of many units of painted past.

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