Limber: Spatial Painting Practices Symposium. Sat Oct 5, 11am – 4pm

Cragg Lecture Theatre and Herbert Read Gallery, University for the Creative Arts at Canterbury, New Dover Road,Canterbury, CT1 3AN

‘The choice between the modern and the postmodern is a false one.  Both are, and will always be, premature.’  Thierry De Duve

A one-day event will host a range of speakers including critic and academic, Professor Michael Archer, Goldsmiths, University of London who will deliver the keynote speech, Dr Stephen Wilson, Head of MA Theory at Chelsea College University of the Arts London Maxence Alcalde, professor of philosophy at École Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre, Cherry Smyth, writer and curator, Dr Dominic Rahtz Senior lecturer at University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury and artists; Audrey Reynolds and Joan Key.

Each will investigate why more and more painters are breaking the pact around flatness as a technical-aesthetic rule of the discipline and whether this constitutes a negation or liberation or neither or both.  By reinventing the encounter with space in and around the work through a constructed 3D materiality, this work engages not only with the history of painting but with the increasing dominance of virtual structures and the growing influence of architecture, fashion and design.   The selected artists are drawing on pre-modern and modern ideas to reinvigorate debates around the illusion of depth.  By disturbing perspectival perspectives and thwarting the flatness of the picture plane they are pushing the ideas that inform modernism – pure painting, pure colour and pure visibility.  Does this response reiterate the limits of abstract painting or revise them through an extension into the 3-dimensional?   Some of the artists would argue that playing in an exploratory way and “problem solving” using simple materials or introducing gaps and absences in the canvas have lead to a sculptural swerve which challenges the conventional binary choice between painting and not-painting.  As well as creating its own visual music, the process seems to re-stage emotional space by building a framework that dismantles the surface and drives the viewer to reposition themselves in relation to foreground and background.  Shadows are a live currency in much of this work as it becomes more fully embodied and propelled into the physical world.  Painted canvas has often been compared to skin, whether flawless, pocked, blemished or scarred and if conventional paintings can be likened to flesh, then these mechanical interventions could be considered as the introduction of prosthetics or props to embolden the tension between attachment to painting and detachment from its conventions.  They are transitional objects that instigate not only a going away but also a return, not only a progression outwards but a circling around.  It is a way to create distance to look anew at the thought processes behind painting.  At times this may seem to resemble the complexity of the brain using itself to describe itself.  As poet Robert Hass puts it:

‘It’s hard to see what you’re seeing with, to see what being is as an

activity through the instrument of whatever-it-is we have being in.’

Cherry Smyth

Limber Symposium at UCA in the Cragg Lecture Theatre and Herbert Read Gallery, University for the Creative Arts at Canterbury, New Dover Road,Canterbury, CT1 3AN



October 5th, 11-4pm, free

Cragg Lecture UCA Canterbury

11am Refreshments

Welcome by Trevor Keeble (TBC), Cherry Smyth & Jost Münster

11.15-12.15  Panel 1

Cherry Smyth  (15 mins)

Dominic Rahtz  (15 mins)

Audrey Reynolds (15 mins)

Chair: Joan Key (TBC)

12.20-1.20 Panel 2

Joan Key (TBC)  (30 mins)

Maxence Alcalde (15 mins with simultaneous translation)

Chair: Dominic Rahtz

Lunch: 1.30-2.30  buffet lunch provided

2.30-3.45  Panel 3

Stephen Wilson (15 mins)

Michael Archer (Keynote 30 mins)

Chair: Cherry Smyth