Tom Palin: in two minds - paintings 1994-2010

Palin, Tom ORCID logoORCID: (2010) Tom Palin: in two minds - paintings 1994-2010. [Show/Exhibition]


For me, this was the most significant exhibition I had managed to stage until this time. Not only did it allow me to show almost seventy works from across a sixteen-year period, but also it marked what I later came to think of as an end. By this I mean to suggest that something had run its course. Quite what, I find difficult to articulate. However, I can say this, that for the period of time covered by this exhibition, I sought a form of balance; or, more accurately, a tension between the picture-aspect of a painting and something else. This something else I saw in decidedly pictorial terms, as an abstraction from picturing. This manifested itself in a group of paintings that, to varying degrees, worked with the genres of painting – landscape, portraiture, still life, figure in landscape, view through a window – and which owed something to the history of painting as I conceived of it. Conceptually, as attested to in my book of statements (Tom Palin: Artist Statements 1992-2012), I framed this in terms of a lack of faith in the image…and desired an undecidedness of location arrived at through recourse to the processes of painting. Romantic, no doubt. Formalist, not quite. At least, my inclination to provide a form that would enable me to build around it took precedence over any purely aesthetic concern, although placement has always been important to me. The paintings made in the four or five years prior to this exhibition were, for the most part, unsatisfactory. Now, I see them in light of what I made afterwards, and of where my painting moved to, something I could only have have speculated on at the time. So what changed? Well, certainly there was a reduction in scale from what were already rather small paintings. Also, I worked more systematically on hardwood supports. Mostly, in looking to degrees of picturing, I had missed the full implication of non-picturing, namely: a lack of imaginative extension—a dwelling in the present brought about by a heightened awareness of the material, temporal properties of painted objects. To be with the object is to be here—to be there is to be in pictureland. I came to know that I desired both. I was assisted in this exhibition by Joe Mulhall, Freya Kruczenyk, Joanne McCool and David Palin.

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