Phil Gatenby Durham, United Kingdom
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Retiring from my role as Head of Fine Art at Teesside University in 2014 has enabled me to give full attention to my own studio practice. Practice led autonomy is an insistent thread in the thoughts I have shared with students, academic colleagues & fellow practitioners in the UK and when listening to students, artists and peers in America, Germany, Holland and the Czech Republic.

I think of the studio as a place where elusive ideas and stray memories make themselves known. Doubts and certainties tussle around as each painting begins, some things carry, some things don't. The legacy of non-representational painting presents itself as a sufficiently fragmented resource for its former certainties to be repositioned as an aspect of tactical urbanism. Work for the eye to do in painting. The prime concern out of this tussle reveals itself as an insatiable grappling with figure and ground. Sometimes the figure is the viewer, sometimes the figure is the canvas surface and sometimes an entity within the frame - a tower, a grid, a line, a contour - sometimes not. Likewise, ground confers an immediate association with physical substance, sometimes not. Currently, figure/ground represents physicality in either guise. In this instance a screen/grid motif situates a moment of resistance enabling the materiality of paint to do no other than become a counter. These works appear to me as inescapably of nature, a condition that carries contradictory assumptions, entanglements that build sequentially, a nudge to understand more about how linearity is stilled.

Audience, guests and viewers have an opportunity to test, refresh and mirror their own doubts and certainties, experiment their ownership of lived experience and welcome their willing engagement with unforgiving and messy quests to affirm identity on their terms. There is commonality in this encounter when the subjectivity of meaning in each and all is invited and acknowledged rather than instructed. Commonality of intent begs additional questions: how will the arts and humanities sustain and transform in the swim of climate change in a pandemic era? How will writers, poets, visual artists, dancers and musicians act? Who will be deemed worthy and deserving?

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CompetitionConferenceExhibitionOpen studios
Art writingPainting
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