Tim Craighead: Dos Mundos
November 5, 2011 – February 18, 2012
An exhibition of paintings and works on paper
Tim Craighead’s work inhabits that precise space between the objective and the nonobjective world. His paintings are a unique mix of abstraction and an acute attention to representational detail. And it is this dichotomy and tension that drives his work. He does not comment upon specific events, but instead transcends current political, social, religious and economic situations and embraces the timeless universality of the human condition. His practice is focused on an investigation of self-exploration, but not just of his inner self, but of our collective self. He sees his paintings as depictions of life – the duality of existence in the physical and metaphysical world.
Craighead is also interested in the physicality of paint and its expressive potential. Despite recurring proclamations of its demise, paint seems to present the most tenacious and stubborn resistance to the digital age. And, contemporary painting is part of a continuum older than most records of civilization. He finds the language of paint to be encyclopedic. He says things with paint that he cannot express in words. He pushes, pulls, wipes, scrapes and smears paint on canvas, often revealing his process of editing and refining. To him, it is important to make mistakes and have that history embedded in the painting – “like lines on a face.” He tries to paint what he believes in “eliminating any marks or images that feel disingenuous, listening to what the painting is telling me to do, rather than imposing my will on the work.”
He draws upon a wide range of sources for his imagery including biological and architectural structures, organic forms, as well as a long-standing conviction in the power of paint as metaphor, able to convey meaning, whether it’s depictive or non-depictive. His visual vocabulary is diverse, but relatively finite. Shells, vessels, scribbles, knots, polygons, DNA fragments, and other representational and abstract gestures are repeated from canvas to canvas. However, these glyphs assume a new presence in each canvas making the use of repetition a rather subtle aspect of the paintings. A key element of his compositions is the autonomous mark – a mark that does not serve to depict anything. The value of these marks is purely subjective to both the artist and the viewer. But, for Craighead, they must feel genuine, not mediated through any culturated screen. According to Craighead, “The language I am using in a combinative way, non-objective marks and objective marks, is an attempt to create a new optic. I use systems that are organized, both organic and inorganic, to operate metaphorically.”
Craighead provides an entry to a compelling and provocative space that blurs the distinction between the content and the composition, the recognizable and the mysterious. “I would like the paintings to operate as an aperture through which the viewer can pass and set themselves adrift with visual language that they find provocative.”