Dale, Nicola ORCID logoORCID: (2022) Retouch. [Artefact]


The solo performance ‘Retouch’ comprises a series of acts relating to an exhibition of JA Nicholls’ paintings. Research process: The performances were developed in response to new paintings by JA Nicholls. Through this new series of portraits Nicholls sought to “speak of personal worlds, of desire, uncertainty and failure. Awkward and rough, the paint searches to and fro for a sense or touch of people absent and missed, settling here then there, upon uncertainty, disquiet, affection, intimacy. The paint pulses the presence of what’s missing.” The performances call attention to the particularities of Nicholls’ technique – for the performance, the artist presents her own face as canvas, medium and mirror in order to explore performativity and portraiture, gesture and expression. Research insights: Responding to four of the paintings, four performances replicated different aspects of Nicholls’ work – from the vigour of her brushwork (repeated with vigorous movement on the performer’s own face), to a sense of the person represented (the artist lost in a moment of idle fidgeting), to a consideration of the isolation encountered by the figures (the artist demarcated areas of isolation around herself and the gallery visitors). Repeated and changing in tone and pace throughout the event, the acts took on different interpretations depending on who was witness to them and their own responses to the paintings on display. Dissemination: The performances were presented on the opening night of ‘On Touch’ at Bobinska Brownlee gallery (BBNR), London, 17 March 2022.

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