Torie Begg: ‘apparently’ paintings

A key figure, nationally and internationally, over the last decade, Begg has contributed importantly to the development of critical debate about the language and parameters of painting. Through the 1990’s her signature ‘Apparently Monochrome’ canvases, often presented collectively as elements of an installation, simultaneously questioned the language of painting and presented themselves as candidates for a new vocabulary. Their rigorous technique of systematically re-iterated layers of primary colour (red, blue, yellow) and non-colour (black, white, grey) parallel the structures of minimalism, but bring to this model a completely personal aesthetic language. In re-stretching and re-presenting the canvas, Begg at once re-assesses the status of paint and its relationship with its supporting structure and reassert its identity as a quasi-sculptural object.

For some time now, Begg has been consistently interrogating the status and validity of painting whilst at the same time confronting the viewer with the seductive potential of the medium. Utilising the systematic structuring of Minimalism, the artist articulates the vitality of painting whilst constantly asserting its artifice through the deployment of a number of strategies.

Working in series, Begg seeks to exhaust the permutations available to her in each instance; this procedural approach is constantly at odds with her vibrant palette – layers of red, yellow, blue, white, black and grey – and the application of paint by hand. Each work also carries a coda of the history of its own making, through the fore fronting of the painting’s layers around the edges.

A parallel development has been the use of everyday objects as supports for painting, ranging from bricks to beds, shoes and televisions. For this show, Begg will be exhibiting a number of painting installations, which take on the architecture of the space, further questioning traditional expectations around her chosen medium.

Since the end of the 90’s, this dialectic in Begg’s work has been expanded and underpinned by her ‘object series’ by appropriating ready=made objects – whether bricks, beds, televisions or shoes – as the supports for the painting system. By substituting them for canvas and stretcher, Begg reveals her painting process as one element in a complex conceptual syntax of appropriation and transformation.

This exhibition combines such object series with new work the ‘Apparently Abstract’ series, which entirely rupture the monochrome structure. Recent museum exhibitions include Design Museum, Laing Art Gallery, Tyne and Wear Museums, Museums of Paris ‘L’art Dans le Monde’, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, and next year there will be a touring museum retrospective in Scandinavia. Torie Begg’s work is in several private, corporate, public and museum collections throughout the world including a recent large installation, installed in the Pfizer collection.