copyright © 2016 FramelessGallery

S P E C T R A L S  :

PAUL DELLER


EXHIBITION:

20 MARCH - 9 APRIL 2017


PRIVATE VIEW:  

THURSDAY 23 MARCH, 6PM


Spectral XVI, mixed papers on linen, wood, glass and frame 33 x 40 cm, 2016

Most artists, while experimenting with a variety of practices and media throughout their career, tend to have a go-to, favourite discipline that they return to, a safety blanket perhaps. The same is true of Paul Deller.

 

Although during his time at St. Martin’s and throughout the YBA years he experimented with large canvases, masking tape, footballs, hair, metal sheets, blackboards, burnt and found objects, his favourite medium has always been collage. First embraced by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque at the beginning of the 20th century, the collage (from the French: coller, "to glue") is a technique of art production, primarily used in the visual arts, where the artwork is made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.

 

Deller speaks very fondly of some of his early collage works, which were best sellers at the time - some of which in retrospect he wishes to have kept - and he always wanted to make more of them. With that in mind, over the last 20 years he has been assembling a “body” of materials, his criteria being very simple: texture, age, shape and colour.

 

Following on from The Black Bubbleicious exhibition which showcased over 80 monochrome paper collages made from black book binding covers and claimed as inspiration sources as varied as Brassaï, Kazimir Malevich, Henri Matisse, Philip Guston, totem poles and tribal African fertility carvings, Spectrals is a much more paired down body of work, doing away completely with suggestiveness of form or its absence and focusing solely on colour as evident in the title.

 

In typical diligent and completely thought through academic Paul Deller fashion, everything is “found” and “made” for this body of work: the frames - which are all individually sourced by the artist - become a part of the work and along with the raw linen canvas backing, claim back the work’s “authenticity” by placing it within a British Modern art historical context of the 1950’s and 60’s as opposed to 2015/16, the years when the works were assembled.  Despite these works being encased in glass, in the words of fellow artist Robert Kelly: just by looking one can almost smell the tobacco, patina-ed dampness, and cobwebbed finery in the colored spines of old book covers and forgotten pages.

 

Josef Albers and his Homage to the Square series is probably the clearest art historical reference point for Spectrals but to reduce the poetics of this body of collages to just that would be too basic. Paul Deller’s collages hide an assemblage of coloured paper, wrapping, book binding, Dulux and Pantone extinct colours and non-colours, some as vivid as the day they were produced (due to the books being closed all this time), some “tampered with” by decades of natural light and the resulting chemical reaction, therefore to attempt to paint these as mixed colours from scratch (ala Albers) would somehow take away from their soul.

 

Visiting the artist’s studio, standing there looking at the works and discussing their roots with Paul, one cannot help feel a sense of a bygone age of modernity, constructivism and heritage, pertaining to the geometric abstraction school of Central Europe despite the artists youth and realization that these are new works made in the last couple of years.