Painting in Time: Overflowing, inflatable and powered-by-bike

Susie Stubbs

From Yoko Ono’s toilet to a giant inflatable pillow, this new show at The Tetley demonstrates that painting is far from dead, or even dull.

It’s been said so many times before I can hardly bring myself to say it again: the reports of the death of painting have been greatly exaggerated. The much maligned art form has seen off competition from the likes of conceptual and performance artists, photography and digital media, and it still firmly stands in a corner of the art world that is forever unchanged.

Actually, that’s not true. Painting has changed, as a new exhibition at The Tetley sets out to prove. Although this is a painting show, it’s one whose premise is that painting is a time-based medium. This basically translates to art where something happens during its duration – and in this case, the something happening comes courtesy of artworks that move, or performances that take place, or via the sticky hands of you, the audience. Many of the works on display, in a group show that ranges from golden oldies such s Yoko Ono to relative newbies such as Kristina Buch, require an element of audience participation in order to, so the exhibition blurb goes, keep the “paintings alive”.

Painting is suddenly the ruddy-cheeked wunderkind of the art world

So this is an exhibition that is as much physical as it is cerebral. Some of it is not even painting (it’s sculpture, film or performance). The show includes edible (and drinkable) painting, pedal-powered painting machines, piles of pigment and canvases that overflow, spilling emulsion onto the floor. There’s inflatable painting in the form of a 15-foot painted pillow that inflates and deflates. There are other works that will “evolve” during the life of the show (thanks to the fact that you can rearrange their component parts).

And they all point to a future where painting, once seen as static, even irrelevant, is suddenly the ruddy-cheeked wunderkind of the art world. This is art that has a life beyond the artists’ brush. This is work where the artist relinquishes total control, and where what you do with it determines how it will change, or not. Does this mean painting is dead, or more relevant than ever? You decide.

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