Involvement, inbetweenness and abstract painting

Palin, Tom ORCID logoORCID: (2019) Involvement, inbetweenness and abstract painting. In: Painting The In-Between. Metapoiesis Press, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. ISBN 9781916073906


This is a catalogue essay to accompany the exhibition Painting The In-Between, a group show held at the Bowery in Leeds, 29th March – 12th April 2019. The Exhibition was curated by Richard Baker and Marco Cali, and featured works by Marco Cali, Alex Hanna and Cara Nahaul – from the Contemporary British Painting Group – and Tom Palin, April Virgoe, and Richard Baker, who are Fine Art staff at Leeds Arts University. All of the painters included make forms of representational painting, and yet at the same time, and in varying manners, retain a marked concern for formalism and abstraction. The text itself situates this concern within an art historical narrative. In the process, the author draws attention to issues relating to what E. H. Gombrich termed pictorial representation: to spectatorship and the act looking in respect of the functioning of language and the possibilities of depiction. This essay, then, looks to abstract painting’s situation with regard to the idea of figuration (the showing of other things). And so, both semiotic and phenomenological frameworks of understanding the meaning of paintings become foregrounded in the course of seeking to establish a clearer sense of abstract painting’s peculiar persistence. What might it mean for one ‘to be with abstract painting’, and, moreover, what is implied today when a claim is made for a painting to be other than abstract: i.e., figurative or representational? To locate abstract painting’s position is thus, in part, to speculate on its perceived boundedness—on the indeterminacy of location and the presumed ontology of its site of meaning.

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