In her first solo show in Brazil, British artist Caragh Thuring shows 11 recent paintings, made on linen woven from images of her previous works
“That the words ‘text’ and ‘textile’ share a linguistic root – to make is to weave and to write is to weave – is a useful conflation of parts. Lines of thread act out a crazed type of drawing, pulling thousands of strung-together loops in a tangle of paths, intuition and action. As though capitalising on this semantic coincidence, Thuring uses existing documented paintings and other photographs she has taken as the low-resolution printfiles for digitally produced weaving. In this way, her canvases are transformed into a graphic anthropology, an index of owned marks and images. Here a shortcut or strange tautology means that the gestures of the author, of the painter, are built into the canvas long before painterly ‘work’ has even begun. This is a complex recycling of image and brushstroke, a kind of language-ing of painting that uses symmetry and resonance as a composite visual history”, writes artist Helen Marten in an essay for a recent exhibition by her colleague Caragh Thuring.
In her first solo exhibition in Brazil, the London-based artist brings together works that synthesize all her recent lexicon of recycled images: volcanoes, ships, tartan, brickwork, appropriated silhouettes of fashion ads, and even a photographed fragment of a painting by Frans Hals. About this particular painting, titled The Golden Age (2019), Caragh says the work comes from a photograph taken with her telephone of the framed corner of a painting at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands: “A shower of coins falls into the picture from the top and inhabit a variety of planes within the picture. Some appear to be in the painting or emerging out of it. Others outside, falling over the frame or tucked in between the frame and the painting. It could be a golden shower or Danaë and Zeus.”
An apparent paradox between, on the one hand, a concern with the enigma of depth in paintings, and on the other, a compliment of superficiality, as if the paintings were intended to discuss the emptiness of our digital lives, or even the complexity of the surface, is one of Thuring’s main interests: “I think the works functions for all of these paradoxes. I am consistently interested in what is behind, underneath or beyond, not what is presented to me in any particular circumstance. The pictures do function very spatially as well as on a flat surface level. I create differing planes and environments, layered onto and co-habiting the same canvas. These woven works particularly, oscillate between depth and flatness. The canvas has an image already built into it by the very nature of the weaving, upon which I then paint. There is also a huge amount of space and time that condenses onto the surface. I am using ancient weaving technology and current digital technologies to make these pictures which in the end are basically the same…. 0 and 1’s. It discusses all these aspects as they co-exist and are impossible to separate.”
Chuchu (2019), the only work of the exhibition with title in Portuguese, has a curious genesis, which exemplifies the thematic freedom of the artist’s works. “I saw a chayote at a friend’s house and thought it particularly looked like an ancient fertility sculpture or Venus figurine. I ended up casting it and making a small wax sculpture and now it’s in the painting!”, she reveals.
Still approaching the paintings as compositions of a visual history, Helen Marten continues in her text entitled Motor Metaphors: Notes on the Paintings of Caragh Thuring (2019), “this is a trait preserved similarly by poetry, by fire or the weird skid of clouds across the sky: the outlines are there, but they are fleeting such that empirical plotting is just out of reach. Music too pulls similar triggers. It is full of a mysterious life, not fully perceptible outlines of object or image, but rather abstractions of optical plurality. Episodes overlap and overlay one another, meaning the conventional timeline of a ‘finished painting’ is made elastic because content is pre-loaded”.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Brussels, Belgium (1972), Thuring lives and works in London, England and Argyll, Scotland, and has ten years of consistent artistic career; she is currently included in Slow Painting, a Hayward Touring exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery (24 Oct 2019 – 12 Jan 2020), then travelling to The Levinsky Gallery in Plymouth (25 Jan – 29 Mar 2020) and Inverness and Thurso in Scotland. Last year, she had works included in the group shows Criminal Ornamentation, Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, England [travelling to: Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, England; Longside Gallery, Arts Council Collection, Wakefield, England; Southampton Art Gallery, Southampton, England]; and Virginia Woolf, An exhibition inspired by her writings, Tate St Ives, St Ives, Cornwall; [travelling to: Pallant House, Chichester, England; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England]. Public collections: Tate Gallery, London, England; Arts Council Collection, England; Kistefos, Oslo, Norway; Government Art Collection, England; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo NY.