I see through me
Oct 31 - Nov 26, 2017
Tjalling de Vries is ambitious for painting – ambitious for the range and scale of mark-making he might bring to bear across a canvas, and ambitious too, that painting and sound might come together. Here, intermittent industrial noise played quietly from stretcher bars behind three of the paintings co-habits with postmodern mark-making, and they seem to rub along.
But it is the act of painting that is pre-eminent. One of the pleasures of this show is that de Vries reminds us just how broadly based an activity mark-making can be. Yet the dictates of composition, the measured needs of each painting, still determine the range of technique or the technical virtuosity on show. For de Vries, painting is this delicate dance.
Agitation Sticker has a ground of slate blue pulled by squeegee through old silkscreens; a light lozenge of transparency with masked, brushed edge of yellow angled across its middle; a controlled sinuous line meandering throughout; and a casually sprayed grid of red dots on top. Seems like plenty on a canvas spanning 2200 x 1900mm. But everything is in place in the shallow space of this picture plane. The effect is restrained, open and elegant.
The title work I see through me is similar in pitch, though even more playful. The painting’s ground is angle sprayed. Like most of the works in this show, it has been made off the stretcher and then re-stretched. This sprayed ground gives the painting a folded topographical look, a high viewpoint as if we were scoping something both intimate and grand. White paint has been sponged on top right, masking tape replicated lower left (an old de Vries leitmotif), and two black lines pitch-perfect in calligraphic weight converse with one another in between. Then finally, there is the sausage-like balloon. Its form feels cut out or in to the painting, yet it casts a shadow. Guess that’s why the painting is called I see through me.
Stolen Folder has a beautiful simplicity. Its major angular feature pushes from the bottom of the painting upwards off the floor (all these works lean from the floor to the wall), but that presence is met with white paint pulled and allowed to dribble back to the floor. Sounds insignificant. But upon this lovely tawny linen it looks soft and smashing. There are two creamy edges, an ochre ground and two small, brushed idiosyncratic bars that also enable this painting. Still, its confidence is never overstated.
This exhibition is seven works strong. It is also graceful, poised and mighty arresting.
Peak in the clouds