October 22nd, 2010

Cheyney Thompson at Sutton Lane

Artist: Cheyney Thompson

Venue: Sutton Lane, Brussels

Exhibition Title: Motifs, /Robert/, Paul de Casteljau, Socles, Ménarches, Chronochromes

Date: September 9 – October 23, 2010

Click here to view slideshow

Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.


Images courtesy of Sutton Lane, Brussels

Press Release:

Sutton Lane is pleased to present Cheyney Thompson’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery entitled Motifs, /Robert/, Paul de Casteljau, Socles, Ménarches, Chronochromes. This is his first solo exhibition in Brussels.


In thinking through problems that organize themselves around the terms of painting, it is has become impossible for me to not address the vertical, phallic, modes of signification that condition painting’s legibility (histories of names, its vertical address on the wall, even the very conjunction Painter/Painting seems to indicate a filiation which only resolves itself in so many symbolic deaths). The pedestals are a support for the framing or presentation of the supplemental materials that go into the work’s always potential foreclosure of research. While traversing the signifier /painting/ we come across a potentially elaborate set of possible signifieds, color, identities, collections, supports, types of production, discourses…These pedestals are presenting information which as information can only have a tertiary relationship to the presentation of painting. But with the pedestals, the information can find its own mode of address by being bound to the singular instance of that which presents (the non-repeating formal iteration of the pedestals). The logic of the forms of the pedestals is simple. I found that a typical pedestal for my needs (of presenting a document) was 3200 square inches. I treated this number as constant and designed 5 pedestals that all have the exact same surface area. In theory the most distinguishing feature of a pedestal (its verticality) could topologically become its opposite (horizontality). The pedestals then retain their nominal function as supports for artifacts while proliferating the mutability of their capacity to signify /pedestal/.


Pas encore.

/Robert Macaire/:

The power of this name does come from its efficacy to symbolize villainy or greed — even if at one point it did exactly that. What I think is more interesting is this name’s ability to deracinate identities that have become naturalized in their reified iterations through technological forms of reproduction and/or legalistic accounts of subjects. Robert Macaire shows all subjects to be shot through with historically determined forces which exceed the subject’s capacity for self-representation or narrativization. In so far as this name is separated from its own rootedness in localized moralization, it can function as a name which unnames, or the signature which de-authorizes any act which claims as natural right the validity and meaningfulness of self-presence.


I refer to these paintings as Chronochromes. This time a more complete version of Munsell’s color system is used. For Munsell color is named according to three descriptive categories (Hue, Saturation, and Value) which result in a complete and asymmetrical color space. For these paintings I grafted the color system onto a calendar. Each day has a complementary hue pair, each hour changes the colors’ value, and each month the saturation changes. Noon is absolute white and midnight is absolute black. This provides a system of producing paintings which would register fatigue, distraction, and interruptions as, in theory, it has the potential to produce a smooth gradient that would represent a continuous flow of time. The gradients, however, are not consistent due to my inability to work at all times every day. The system’s description may or may not aid in an interpretation of the work, because in the end we are left with a sequence of paintings which seem to conform to ideas about a highly subjective and composed abstraction. In other words, even while they may resemble compositional devices that some high formalist may have deployed, they do not signify a fully constituted subject’s ability to reflect on the essential nature of space, being, oneness, etc. What they do perhaps signify is a first order abstraction in the way that certain values are transposed and structure a laboring subject’s ability to enunciate. In other words, painting is here equated with a kind of wage labor, where time itself, the time of life, has become a discrete set of units, which are countable, and plotted within the support– painting. But of course pictures always say more than they intend, so that even if the paintings are the result of a highly instrumentalized reasoning, they seem to picture a kind of pulsional desire which is rooted in the laboring body, or perhaps the involuntary dilatin of the pupils as they are exposed to more or less light. I could almost say that there is an attempt to locate the affective dimensions of aesthetic experience where the body and consciousness are at their most dominated and instrumentalized.

Another note: The paintings all share the same height, every width is numerically unique. This was motivated by an interest in displacing the function of the frame as the primary determining feature of a picture’s ability to signify within genre forms. Even while certain formats may resemble a historic genre for painting (landscape, portrait), they are constituted by a fundamentally arbitrary cut into an industrial loom’s more or less infinite capacity for production. Typically, this inaugural cut allows for an initial suppression of the types of laboring bodies which produced the linen. There are all sorts of problems with these ideas, that I can foresee, I however could not see a way of avoiding them. In other words I am ambivalent as to whether this aspect of the work which seeks to UNCOVER suppression is not itself held together by even worse suppressions, or that if laying out an infinite list of facts and descriptions PRODUCES anything of critical value, much less the possibility for aesthetic judgement.

Papua New Guinea:

This is the site of the famous early study of gender construction by Ian Hogbin entitled,”the Island of Menstruating Men”. He details the practice of subincision, the lateral cutting of the penis, which results in a violent transposition of the vagina on to the penis. This seems to be another way of thinking the interpenetration of the law and the body through mimesis. This could lead to a different conception of Erotic Art. More work to be done.

Paul de Casteljau:

A name within a another name — Pierre Bézier. This is a also a history within a history. One is tragic and one is triumphant. The story of a free curve becoming number and number becoming a control parameter and a control parameter defeating a labor union. It is an origin myth for drawing’s disappearance. See the supplementary material.

Link: Cheyney Thompson at Sutton Lane

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