The first few pages of the current Art Monthly are an interview with Martin Creed, who I’ve kept an eye on since he gave a good lecture at Central Saint Martins a few years ago, in which he couldn’t think of anything at all to say.

He explained to David Trigg why he moved away from painting:

One of the problems with painting I always found was the relationship between the painting and the wall – you can’t really see the painting without seeing the wall around it. I couldn’t handle the difference between the object and what’s around it – I don’t know why but I couldn’t. When I stopped painting I tried to make these wall works that solved the problem. One of the ways of solving it was making works that were seamlessly joined with their environment: from the lights going on and off to the door opening and closing, in all of those pieces you can’t say where the work finishes and the rest of the work begins. (AM321:3)

I think not being able to ‘handle the difference between’ things is another way of putting the imperative of indecision I wrote about the other day, which is what I want to get away from. And likewise, Creed goes on to explain why he’s recently begun to work with paint on canvas:

I think it comes from accepting that it can actually be helpful to draw distinctions between things. With those earlier works there was no frame, no boundary between the work and the rest of the world – they were seamlessly joined. To make a painting on a canvas you have to accept that there is a boundary because you can’t make a separate object without one. A world where there are no boundaries, no rules and no clear divisions is more difficult to live with because you never know where you are or where anything begins and ends. I think it can be helpful to draw these lines. (AM321:3)

It’s this same impulse that I was describing on Tuesday, to finally come round to admitting things can be distinct. But I don’t agree with his claim that it’s more difficult to live in a world without clear rules or divisions. It’s true that ‘it can be helpful to draw these lines’, but having to learn how to draw them in the first place is the most difficult thing to live with.

(I’ve just ticked a few boxes under the window I’m writing in, to assign various ‘WORDS’ to this post. One of the words I assigned was ‘drawing’, because I’ve talked about drawing lines between things. I wonder what it will do if I keep in mind that creating distinctions between things could be a process of drawing.)

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