How important is time in your artistic process?
Gillian Lawler: Time is an essential component of my work that is evident through a process of mutilayered images. I give myself about a year before an exhibition to realise a new body of work. The work evolves slowly at first, building up imagery and association layer by layer. These layers are very subtle and enrich the work with a depth of meaning only perceptible through the act of prolonged observation. I use the canvas in its preliminary form as a research vehicle, experimenting with various geometric forms, line, mood and projection of mind. The motifs I reuse are based on the concept of form, my daily interactions on a human level and my own personal feeling in this moment. I believe the painting is finished when I feel form and atmosphere/mood are balanced.
How do you consider your art practice? And how do you describe it?
GL: I am primarily a painter however over the last couple of years I have experimented with sculpture, photography, slide projection and drawing. My painting in the past has been described in sculptural terms so it was a natural transition using other media to describe what I do. My work describes my place in the known world and beyond, past experiences and feeds off of current thinking concerning our environment, climate change and prevalent existential unease.
Currently, what is the title of your solo exhibition in Turin and how does it fit with the main concept of Painting through its poetical emotions?
GL: My exhibition for the Weber and Weber Gallery in Turin is entitled This entropic order. Entropy is a measure of uncertainty or randomness and suggests the universe is moving towards a state of maximum entropy – this is countered by theories of complexity and growth. With this in mind my new work infuses the idea of place, organisation, relocation and transformation through different states of being. This approach allows for an application and juxtaposition of imagined forms directly painted onto the canvas, a free flowing stream of unconsciousness so to speak, which through the process of time is erased and reworked until it finally resembles a clear point of thought. Order is applied according to the balance of shape, line, colour and empty space. The liminal space is important as a place of transition, and allows for a multifaceted approach to image making, a kind of order precariously poised on a rising tide of disorder.
Which emotions do you try or not to arouse in the observer?
GL: I am interested in the idea of architectural unease, recurring checker board motifs accentuate a definite but skewed anti-perspective, which herein add to a surreal, dreamlike sense of discomfort, where what appears to have been planned according to a perspectival logic is withheld and subverted. In more recent paintings I have explored the idea of transition, moving from one state of being to another, an earth bound state moving towards perhaps a more spiritual untethered form. My colour palette is broad but greyed in tone so it imbues the work with a sense of sadness at times. Within the most recent work the image of a platform acts as a vehicle for this transformation and creates a sense of weightlessness which inspires a sense of hope.
How you create these alternative universes, extra cosmos where geometrical elements settle the space?
GL: I am interested in abandoned places, empty and laid bare, a vista which allows me to imagine an alternative timeline or dimension free of the clutter of once concentrated human civilisation.
The addition of hypothetical architectural structures are multifaceted and can be grounded, floating, tethered or expansive. They act as sentinels, observing at a distance, travelling perhaps to another place, appearing conspicuous at times or camouflaged by elaborate patterning. They are I hope, a point of crossing between two places, a place in ones mind and a hook which pulls us through. My use of a chequer board pattern creates a skin which can be pulled and stretched in many directions giving the forms a sense of movement through time.
The exhibition project Paintings through its poetical emotions (20th September 2018 – 2nd February 2019, Galleria Weber & Weber, Turin) curated by Valeria Ceregini is kindly supported by Culture Ireland (cultureireland.ie)
Gillian Lawler, Residue, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm, 2018
Gillian Lawler, Tower, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm, 2018
Gillian Lawler, Transition, oil on anvas, 30 x 40 cm. 2018
is art historian, critic and independent curator based in Turin and Dublin (Ireland).