Clare Price: New Paintings is at Studio 1.1 until the 10th of June
Clare Price is currently exhibiting at Studio 1.1 in Shoreditch. She has been working for a number of years in what has undoubtedly become a signature style, though when I spoke to her at the show she said that she wanted to avoid becoming a brand and that her current paintings felt transitional, that her work could potentially head off in a number of different directions.
Price’s paintings begin with drawings made on the outdated computer program Claris Works. These drawings are projected and traced with pencil onto canvas. Some of the resulting distorted webs are filled in, with more or less concern with keeping within the lines, with the result acting as a foil for fluid mark-making and paint-throwing. Drips are important: often the web of distorted pixels anticipate them by forming a kind of lattice-work sky or ceiling from which they can flow down. These ceiling-skies are the most obvious of a variety of quasi-spaces which inhabit Price’s paintings and which glow with the strange light her colours (now more ‘classical’ than neon) can produce. It is the way in which these colours and spaces interact – their disembodiment and their flashing emptiness – that for me provide the paintings’ attraction. The particular quality of this interaction is perhaps also a more fruitful way in dealing with her fascination with our ever-increasing immersion in the computer screen than the blatant retro-futurist content signaled by the pixels.
Price is clearly compelled by, as she puts it, ‘obliteration and erasure’ but in most of the paintings the initial pixilated lattice, if it does not entirely dominate the image, then at least shows through the paint layered on top of it; in doing so it provides her images with an overall structure and coherence, however loose this may be, or however much contradicted by her gestural marks. For me this reliance on the lattice is problematic, as is the general slick, slack and trash aesthetic. Both seem restrictions that cut the paintings’ potential; one by giving us a structure that is too dominant and too readily understandable, and the other, conversely, by providing too quick an excuse for a lack of structure, as if the need for structure could be flung off in hastily dripped paint. There is something worth recognizing in Price’s updating of past traditions of gestural abstraction but I think it needs to be more strongly stated, to begin with greater freedom and to finish with greater attention to coherence, so that its content can be properly attended to. The multiplying screens with which Price is fascinated and within which we are so often immersed present us with a dizzying array of abstract experience: does abstract painting, with its stress on the hand-made, the human-scaled and the directly present, have a role to play in confronting and allowing us to deal with the screen’s endless disembodied abstractions?
Some of the artists mentioned in my talk with Clare Price included Peter Halley, Fiona Rae, Joan Mitchell, the late Garden paintings of Patrick Heron, Caragh Thuring, Frank Stella, Vicky Wright, Albert Oehlen. Price’s own website is here.