Reena Spaulings

Later Seascapes, 2015

Farrow & Ball “estate emulsions” on canvas

270 × 270 cm


Interested in purchasing this work?

Enquire

Additional Information

Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

photo credit: def image, Berlin

Artwork
Description

This work is representative of a series of Seascapes created by Reena Spaulings, the artistic proxy whose moniker acts as an alternative identity and deconstructs the conception of the artist as both brand and individual. The painting is composed of Farrow & Ball “estate emulsions” on canvas, using household paint as the starting point for an exploration of art and industry. The paint becomes a semiotic device that explores the aestheticisation of mass markets and culture. The colour scheme is also indicative of this as both a reference to “a Pantone aesthetic” and Goethe’s colour theory that was so influential upon J.M.W Turner’s paintings of light, which this series pays tribute to.

The work was created with the aid of a robot whose function is to mop floors. This creates a narrative within the work based upon the increasing automation of society and culture as the inspiration of the human hand is replaced by the mechanical brush strokes of the machine. However, similarly this references Turner and his ability to utilize unusual methods to create his desired effect. In such circumstances the work references the ever-changing nature of technology and the public’s unavoidable fear and apprehension in the face of technological advancement. In this sense the work becomes a purposely-ambiguous statement about the nature of technology.

The work also discusses the process of reproduction and authenticity. While in one sense it is a pastiche of Turner, it is also a mechanically produced work. However, it appears virtually impossible for this work to be exactly reproduced by mechanical means and therefore it can be viewed as an auratic artwork. However, this is further thrown into conflict by the nature of the artist, who is essentially fictional and becomes a brand when viewed in the context of the eponymous gallery.

About
the artist

Reena Spaulings is a composite identity; she is a fictionalised creator and curator that was spawned from the anonymity of the Bernadette Corporation, an art collective founded in 1994 whose members have changed over the years, and reunites roughly 150 anonymous voices. The artist succeeds her own creations living a kind of life lived backwards, whose genesis begins at the point of sale and then recedes to the creation of artworks.

Initially, Reena Spaulings started its identity as a New York gallery, founded in 2003 by Emily Sundblad and John Kelsey, which still continues today. The name provided a fake “front” for the gallery, and she became a portrayal of post 9/11 New York culture and the art scene of the times. Going even to the extent of publishing an eponymous novel, which followed the inception of the gallery, the Bernadette Corporation created a mythical biography of the individual, turning her into a three dimensional persona with a tangibly historical existence. Reena Spaulings could be and is in many ways everybody. She is a collective identity composed of 150 voices and produced by the Bernadette Corporation. This in itself is representative of the aims of the Corporation and exemplifies the reification of commodity culture in the personal interactions of people within this society. Reena Spaulings is an inversion of the cultural industry in which the propagator precedes the creator. This becomes a commentary upon the phenomenon of artists being signed to specific galleries and represents the innate capitalistic tendencies within the art world. This ties into the Bernadette Corporation’s beliefs that it is impossible to negate the economic system, and thus the language of the system should be incorporated into artistic products.

Spaulings affords her constituent artists the ability to work in different ways; to hide behind an alternative persona, producing art which functions in relation to the gallery itself. Her works are unified by a counter-cultural sensibility, and to some extent deconstruct the ideas of individual identity in the modern world. Their works include flags, which are flagrant symbols of nationalism and community. This is reinforced by the communal element of their creations, unified by this fictional singularity. This speaks about society and its constituent entities as being fundamentally fictional, which are largely created to organise communities and to create power relationships. Flags in this sense are a representation of power.

Another subject has been the exploration of money, which is an abstract object that engenders power relationships. In this way, the continuing themes of Reena Spaulings’ works are about the human proclivity to designate and create discrete unities that are ultimately abstractions and thus their works embody this directly. The character in her own rights is also an abstraction whose very existence poses an ontological question regarding why and how the individual functions within the societal context of the 21st century.


Reena Spaulings is an inversion of the cultural industry in which the propagator precedes the creator. This becomes a commentary upon the phenomenon of artists being signed to specific galleries and represents the innate capitalistic tendencies within the art world. This ties into the Bernadette Corporation’s beliefs that it is impossible to negate the economic system, and thus the language of the system should be incorporated into artistic products.

Another subject has been the exploration of money, which is an abstract object that engenders power relationships. In this way, the continuing themes of Reena Spaulings’ works are about the human proclivity to designate and create discrete unities that are ultimately abstractions and thus their works embody this directly. The character in her own rights is also an abstraction whose very existence poses an ontological question regarding why and how the individual functions within the societal context of the 21st century.


Reena Spaulings
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition