Between Painting and Place

Jo McGonigal
8th May - 18th June 2015

Jo McGonigal sees the conventions that govern painting are concentrated on its image-based origins and functions, often directing us to a referent or narrative reading. Her investigations consider what a ‘painting’ does when the viewer is confronted with its physical material properties as a primary experience, which can be encountered as a live active perceptual relationship rather than referring to an external reference or narrative. Her view of our image based, digitized world distances the expressive body from real experience and denies the viewer an experiential, tactile encounter of looking that actively engages the other senses.

Jo explores what painting does when its relationship to the viewer as a thing of pure opticality is destabilized. Her investigation examines what painterly environments and qualities trigger our senses to the extent that bodily expressions can be affected by them [embodied spatial perception]. Jo is interested in making the engagement with painting a physical event where the experience of looking calls upon the viewer to be aware of themselves and their perceptual process as multi-sensory, where ‘qualities of matter, space, scale and colour are measured equally by the eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscle[2]

Jo often uses compositional strategies to engage the viewer in a physical encounter of looking and being within a ‘spatialised’ painting. Incorporating materials that resonate with their wider surroundings and the outside environment, she externalizes materially what is already there, into formal ‘painterly’ compositions. By walking through these paintings, one can move from one aspect to another. The walking element becomes significant and activates our senses so everything can operate at an equilibrium. This highlights the extent to which there is an emphasis in contemporary painting that focusses upon image and the eye, whilst often supressing the other senses.
The artist’s intention is to direct the viewers’ attention towards the made and the readymade, putting things together and “loosening off” their ties to existing contexts so each element is both a part and apart, thus creating a cognitive dissonance in our understanding of what we see.


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