Peter Tyn­dall
detail

21st November – 15th December 2012
Anna Schwartz Gallery Carriageworks

Amongst the lib­er­at­ing artis­tic impuls­es from the late 1960s to the mid-70s, Green­ber­gian for­mal­ism took hold in Mel­bourne – its most con­spic­u­ous man­i­fes­ta­tion was The Field’ exhi­bi­tion which coin­cid­ed with the open­ing of the Nation­al Gallery of Victoria’s new site in 1968. Con­cep­tu­al­ism, Min­i­mal­ism and cross-dis­ci­pli­nary activ­i­ty like (espe­cial­ly) fem­i­nist per­for­mance and music (includ­ing anti-music) rep­re­sent­ed a city which was activist and inter­na­tion­al­ly aware. Noth­ing was timid, although much was explorato­ry and uncer­tain. Pic­to­r­i­al illu­sion­ism was con­signed to his­to­ry and the painters of home­spun nation­al­ism were in decline.

The notion that an idea in itself might become the well-spring for artists to make art was, for Aus­tralia, a rad­i­cal con­cept. That’s when Peter Tyn­dall emerged as the least par­ti­san or doc­tri­naire amongst coter­ies of deter­mined intel­lec­tu­al bents, and he became one of the most admired of the new gen­er­a­tion – our finest con­cep­tu­al painter.

Green­berg argued that aes­thet­ic analy­sis was intu­itive, unable to be ver­i­fied, where all that we were required to know was con­tained with­in the work of art itself; abstrac­tion was the high­est form of expres­sion, and ref­er­ences to exter­nal sub­jects were super­flu­ous. It was a ten­den­cy that Aus­tralian artists respond­ed to. And Tyndall’s reac­tion? He became inter­est­ed in the observ­er – the mind’s eye – look­ing at the observ­er observ­ing; a spec­u­la­tive, intel­lec­tu­al enquiry where curios­i­ty antic­i­pates awe.

By the ear­ly 1980s Tyndall’s artis­tic propo­si­tion that the act of look­ing would be the point of depar­ture and return’ was con­clu­sive­ly in place. So too was his use of his now famil­iar ideogram, formed from the sus­pend­ed rec­tan­gle which first appeared as small painter­ly’ works (paint­ings with­in paint­ings) from the mid-sev­en­ties – a device that, in effect, can be seen as infi­nite, able to be repeat­ed and serialised.

detail
A Per­son Looks At A Work Of Art/​
some­one looks at some­thing…
LOGOS/HA HA

This sug­gests that Tyndall’s lim­it­less use of the same title might describe two quite sep­a­rate acts — but they are one. It’s a title that has remained unchanged almost from the begin­ning: where uni­ver­sal rea­son and truth, Logos, is adjoined by absur­di­ty – laughter.

Tyn­dall is not a for­mu­la­ic or didac­tic con­cep­tu­al­ist – how could he be? when the view­er is insep­a­ra­ble from (intel­lec­tu­al­ly or intu­itive­ly) com­plet­ing a work of art. When look­ing, the dichoto­my between the paint­ing and the view­er lessens and, as the artist might say, he projects on what he sees and there becomes a toing and fro­ing of rec­i­p­ro­cal action. It’s an idio­syn­crat­ic dual­ism at play (part­ly from his inter­est in Bud­dhism), a con­nect­ed­ness through non-nar­ra­tive form.

Tyn­dall is drawn to both the grandeur and sim­plic­i­ty of ideas and beliefs, often fas­ci­nat­ed by what inter­ests oth­ers, and their reac­tion to an image, per­haps an encounter and, in doing so, reveals that one con­cept is unable to remain as mutu­al­ly exclu­sive from anoth­er. He can ele­vate the seem­ing­ly ordi­nary into images of unex­pect­ed coin­ci­dence. Think of them as meta-con­cep­tions borne from asso­ci­a­tions, every­day obser­va­tions – a text, found object – or the con­duct of the reli­gious and spir­i­tu­al – life’s panorama.

I often think of Tyndall’s art as pic­to­r­i­al Haiku, where images or ideas are com­pressed into con­sid­ered and pre­fig­ured arrange­ments – where noth­ing can be tak­en as lit­er­al­ly giv­en: like pic­tograms where the shape of lan­guage might rep­re­sent a sound or an action, where a sin­gle image or a drawn arrange­ment becomes a sum­ma­ry of some­thing. Tyndall’s styl­is­tic antecedents are bare­ly vis­i­ble in his work, but the dis­creet indebt­ed­ness to Dada, Duchamp and the ear­ly avant-garde remains an endur­ing key­stone. His for­ma­tive years saw him involved with exper­i­men­tal music (Slave Gui­tars of the Art Cult); one-off projects and instal­la­tions in non-main­stream venues; a time when com­mu­ni­ties of ideas flour­ished; it’s an atti­tude which remains as he qui­et­ly resists conformity.

I have known the artist for 40 years and first looked at his paint­ings through a west­ern frame­work. Now I often approach them and, as the Japan­ese might encour­age, think of log­ic as pli­able, where seri­ous­ness, humour and the mean­ing found in a detail might be vast. I think too of the Mono-ha move­ment (School of Things) and one of its found­ing mem­bers, Lee Ufan, who said, The high­est lev­el of expres­sion is not to cre­ate some­thing from noth­ing, but rather to nudge some­thing which already exists so that the world shows up more vividly.”

Doug Hall, AM

Images

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM

Peter Tyn­dall

detail, 2012
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
Curat­ed by Doug Hall AM