Yellow Monochrome (Japan)
1st – 24th September 2016
Anna Schwartz Gallery
In early 2015, I began producing a group of yellow monochromes, which focus on the constituent elements of painting— surface (plane) and frame (line). These works comprise a variety of painted surfaces (hessian/masonite/glass/MDF) combined with a range of styles of wooden frames, the frames being integral to the painting, not added later. The surfaces in these works are yellow, while the frames vary from yellow to black or white.
Soon after, I travelled to Japan with these works at the front of my mind. In Tokyo, I went walking each morning in the gardens of the Meiji Shinto Shrine and noticed instances of plane and line being used in the landscape, such as in the fences and walls made from strapping bamboo poles together. The yellowish colour of the bamboo connected in my mind with the yellow I had been using in my monochrome paintings. I thought to use bamboo as a material to construct both the surface and frame of paintings, continuing the yellow project but being more specific to my experience in Japan. The Japan paintings have thus become a subsection of the ‘Experimental Painting Workshop (EPW)’ yellow paintings.
I visited Kyoto to see the golden and silver pavilions set in beautiful Japanese gardens where I saw bamboo used in the same manner. At the silver pavilion, I noticed short lengths of thick bamboo were joined together on a square plane to cover drain holes in the garden. The scale called to mind that of a small painting and reinforced my interest in doing paintings like this on my return.Travelling to Uno to visit the nearby islands of Naoshima and Teshima, I was struck by the bamboo forest on the hills. On the rural island of Teshima, I went to a beach near Karato Port and washed up on the shore were some bits of full and split bamboo and various pieces of ceramic tile, which I picked up and brought home to Melbourne.
The first of the Japan paintings used varnished bamboo glued to canvas and painted yellow. After that, other items from Japan, ceramic tiles, pottery, chopsticks, bamboo mats and coins were incorporated into the paintings. These are constructed paintings with a strong material basis and working directly with intuition and the materials themselves.
John Nixon, March 2016