Pilkington’s work explores abstraction through figuration, investigating the role of the motif and the relationship it holds to drawing in contemporary abstract painting. Seductive explorations of colour are informed by clarity and confidence through painterly application. The artworks created for this exhibition offer propositions through simplification and rejection.
The composition of each piece is the most important element and individual works should be able to support themselves without collapsing aesthetically. That being said, in getting to this point the work will become appropriately awkward and self aware – the way in which the work is hung is not only a reference to physical painting strategies, but also an element of the personality of each piece.
Directly sourced from the content of pre-existing work, these pieces are scaled up, zoomed in, and re-investigated. Each work an evaluation of the past taking on a new life. They are direct, yet contrived, with subject matter derived from real life and then manipulated. The content is deeply personal and after speaking with Pilkington in preparation for creation of text for this show Leopold Thun, a gallerist and curator, sent the below letter:
Remember when it was that time of the year, the endless summer break at school, when you would temporarily stop your friendships in Billinge in favour of moving along wherever your parents took you? Sometimes they would take you far away, sometimes just a couple of villages down from where you would be living during term-time. Each trip felt vast, mostly overwhelming in its eventfulness, even when nothing happened.
At the end it was always through t-shirts or keychains bought in a souvenir shop, or the occasional postcard, that we tried to delineate these holidays with an oversimplified technique – bringing an image back home. Little did we care that this type of imagery was most often a vessel for cultural assumptions, misconstructions, fantasies, a crass inadequacy of what we actually saw and felt in our little universe that we built whilst on holiday. We did not care because the paraphernalia was able to do what we couldn’t do – move images and therefore time.
It must feel similar to you now that you are sending images across the globe. Only that your travel extends to where the blank canvas ends. You might agree that similar to a holiday there is no point of arrival in painting, it is not about delivering results. It is an exciting and meaningful process that cannot be stopped just like we cannot look at a sunset on a beach forever.
I feel that this is where these works, which purposefully fail to neither ratify nor deny what really was, come from. The memory of the paintings, they refer to what is concealed in changes of palette, in amplifications and diminution of gestures, in unusual crops but mainly in an overload of information that cannot possibly be captured.
What we are left with is a series of abstract feelings forcefully made figurative – small precious objects that are catalysts for further images that we will never be able to visualise as they do not exist but in (y)our memory.
See you in Copenhagen.
Jon Pilkington - Weather for Leather
Coma Gallery, April 7 - May 8
Contribution by Tristian Koenig.