A contemporary take on cycle painting, ‘Towards Futility’ is a site-specific project addressing ideas of impermanence in painting and the mutability of memory.
Painted directly on the wall over the course of a month, small groups of figures emerge in a drawn landscape; they stake claim to their new environment in a series of ambiguous acts. What is clear –by the nature of their actions and the mode in which they are painted– is that their time here is unstable and limited.
For this project at Artspace Liberti, I was inspired by the history of wall painting in churches, as an art form that presupposes textual knowledge. No longer considered simply ‘books for the illiterate,’ early examples of ecclesiastical paintings were ‘seeable signs’ of shared information that may have been largely unreadable outside of the context of their community.* By creating a narrative painting devoid of a known back-story or doctrine, I encourage multiple readings and personal projections, while drawing on the wall painting’s tradition of communal exchange.
I am interested in the idea of investing in impermanence. The short-lived nature of this mural subverts its assumed function and imbues the time-intensive work with a sense of fleetingness. Watercolor is encouraged to bleed and drip at the mercy of gravity, highlighting its relative fragility as a medium. Knowledge of the fate of the painting suspends the youthful narrative in an impending sense of loss; the process of painting itself is steeped in equal parts confidence and doubt. Like most of my recent work, this project ultimately explores a distinction between value and worth in painting.
[*thoughts on early religious murals cribbed from Athene Reiss’s excellent article ‘Beyond ‘Books for the Illiterate’ Understanding English Medieval Wall Paintings’ (British Art Journal Spring 2008)]