The Realm of Objects and Ideas is an online only exhibition that endeavours to look at the potentialities of paper as a means of artistic expression.
In the previous chapters of this show, we looked at artists who use paper as a site of resistance - Adel Abdessemed, Robert Longo, Paul Noble - and others who experiment with the notions of printing, uniqueness, and reproducibility inherent to contemporary consumerist society - Ed Ruscha and Paul Kneale.
In the third installment of this exhibition, we will focus our attention on two artists who do not approach paper simply as a window on a scene, but as an object in its own right - with a physicality and resilience that they both, in their different ways, need to negotiate: Rebecca Salter and Diogo Pimentão.
When Rebecca Salter RA arrived in Japan in the 1970s, she had just graduated from Bristol Polytechnic as a ceramicist. During her sejourn in Asia, she abandoned ceramics to take on a new, fascinating medium: Japanese paper. Captured by its physicality, Salter started working not on it, but with it. Indeed, instead of employing paper as a surface on which she could paint or draw her abstract compositions, the artist looks at the sheet as a whole - using it recto and verso, piercing, scratching, burning it to create texture, treating it as a three-dimensional material, rather than a two-dimensional plane.
Similarly, the London-based Portuguese artist Diogo Pimentão does not employ paper as a drawing surface, but adopts it to create impressive, large scale sculptures that - at first sight - trick the eye into perceiving their materiality as anything but paper. Pimentão covers large sheets of robust paper with a thick layer of graphite, which he then folds, creating angles and curves, to erect solid, sculptural objects that either hang on walls or are impossibly counter-balanced with slabs of concrete. The mineral sheen deriving from the graphite coating appears metallic and leathery at the same time, enhancing the physical qualities of paper.
Salter and Pimentão create artworks that although very different in their appearance, share some of the same fundamental qualities.
The importance of repetition - and of the natural, yet inexplicable, variation that occurs within such repetition - clearly transpires from both their practices. Here, it holds a transformative power: it transports the viewer elsewhere, perhaps changing them, or their notions of perception. By looking at their works, it is almost possible to physically perceive the importance of silence and rhythm. The fine balance between rigour and chaos, logic and emotion is what perhaps strikes the deepest chords in the viewer, and endows the artworks with such balanced, meditative qualities.