As I entered the vast halls of booths at Art Basel 2016 I was searching for new and exciting developments in photography. I found little to none. What did cry out to me most from the walls though was that something much more exciting was happening in the world of painting. One of the first works that really captured my attention was by Pamela Rosenkrantz - a fridge stocked with water bottles, each bottle filled with paint pigments. "Now that's a painting!" I said to myself. Here is my selection of works from Art Basel 2016 that challenge the notion of painting as we know it.
Traditionally speaking painting was simply: PAINT + CANVAS = PAINTING
Are both elements really required for a work to be considered a painting? After all, Robert Raushenberg's first "combine painting" entitled "Bed" of 1955 used the artists own bedding materials instead of a canvas to paint on. If it is agreed that we may eliminate the canvas and replace it with bedding, wood panel or acrylic sheeting, then it seems fair game to perhaps replace the paint with alternatives or even eliminate it altogether. Such is the case in Tauba Auerbach's woven canvases or Nicholas Hlobo's canvases with ribbon. In other works, the paint itself is kept, but deconstructed, omitting the oil that is traditionally mixed with pigment to produce paint. A fantastic example of this is Thilo Heinzmann's delicate minimal canvas. Anish Kapoor, the master of materiality and contemporary alchemist, presents "Dragon", which, while not on canvas, features monochromes of an intensely rich Prusssian blue pigment (reminiscent of Yves Kleins "YK Blue") applied to eight Japanese riverbed stones. Painting is no longer about subject matter; rather, it is an exploration in formalist practices. Materiality defines painting of this era.
While you might not agree with me that all of these are paintings, perhaps neither will all of the artists I've featured. But, in taking a cue from the title of Rosenkrantz's refrigerated pigments I urge you to "Look Deeper".
- Holly Marie Armishaw, July 2016
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Holly Marie Armishaw
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Holly Marie Armishaw is a contemporary artist, art writer, francophile, and world traveler. Through rigorous exploration of inspiration from international sources of art and culture, she infuses her insights with a critical eye as she discusses global trends. Both her art and writing are informed by attending a continuous array of art exhibitions, lectures, fairs and biennales, both at home and abroad.