Inigo Philbrick discusses his new London gallery show of Rudolf Stingel’s “Instruction Paintings,” Stingel’s market and the vagaries of art dealing.
RUDOLF STINGEL, 1989 – 1996 INSTRUCTION PAINTINGS
10 June – 05 August 2016
Inigo Philbrick is delighted to present ‘Rudolf Stingel 1989 – 1996 Instruction Paintings.’
Originally conceived in 1989 Rudolf Stingel’s Instruction Paintings form the basis for his artistic practice, combining a deft understanding of the language of abstract painting and a preoccupation with authorship, process and audience participation, engagement and activation. The paintings, first shown with Massimo de Carlo Gallery (Milan) in 1989 and Paula Cooper Gallery (New York) in 1994, were accompanied by an explanatory artist pamphlet in six languages, illustrating their work-a-day method of production. The publication was a flirtatious comeuppance and sleight-of-hand played against the heroic myth of American Abstract Expressionism, and Europe’s process driven abstraction centered on the Zero movement. If you like it, make one, the artist appears to invite.
The process of making an Instruction Painting is a simple one; paint a canvas with a layer of oil paint, lay down a scrim of cloth, spray a layer of silver enamel and allow the paint to rest. Once the surface is set but still tacky, pull the cloth through, mixing the surfaces into a tempestuous ground. Simple as this might seem, everything from the creases in the cloth to the drying time allowed and the precise proportions of oil and enamel create radically different effects; iridescent to matte, monochrome to multi-hued.
A major group of Instruction Paintings comprised the central rooms of Stingel’s 2007 touring exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Whitney Museum. In turn this exhibition is the first European survey to include such a breadth of the paintings; executed across an eight-year period. Throughout the span of the period surveyed, the paintings evolve from decidedly intimate canvases produced with affordable materials and a human scale, into the larger and more formally even paintings that are perhaps better known. These early paintings imbed in their surface the artist’s exploration of his process; illustrating an artistic element to a ritual that he reduced to a paint-by-numbers, Ikea-flat-pack procedure. Seen together, they foreshadow the installations, wallpaper and carpet pattern paintings and even the figurative work that followed over the subsequent twenty-five years.
Rudolf Stingel, (born in Merano, Italy, 1956) is widely celebrated for his multi-disciplinary practice, encompassing painting, installation, sculpture and performance. Amongst his most important public contributions are his 2003 ‘celotex’ pavilion at the Venice Biennale, his 2004 ‘Plan B’ installation at Grand Central Terminal, New York, his 2007 touring retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and his solo exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2013). Stingel lives and works in both Merano and New York.