English / German
24 x 29 cm
23 color illustrations
“My enquiries come down to trying to answer the question: “What is painting?” says the young British artist Robert Holyhead. “The more I think about abstraction and painting the more I understand that what I’m trying to make is a painting. I’m not trying to arrive at a conclusion.” Painted with swift monochrome brushstrokes, Holyhead’s small-sized abstract oil paintings have the lightness of watercolours. Layering the paint in different shades of opacity and wiping out forms to let the white primer shine forth, the artist carefully balances his fragile and elegant compositions. This book presents a work group shown at Galerie Max Hetzler in Berlin 2014, complete with detail and installation shots and an essay analyzing Holyhead’s work process.
ROBERT HOLYHEAD – PAINTING
(excerpt from the text by David Ryan)
Painting acts as a combination of timbres and temporalities (in that surface mark and colour are intertwined). Holyhead has spoken of slowing the viewer down, and of course, while painting is often seen as an instantaneous medium – of being taken in all at once – this belies the excavation of time in which every ‘look’ partakes. Similarly, at the time of their making, a binary negotiation of both precision and action – of pre-meditation and improvisation – is crucial to how these paintings work. Through the process of wiping, Holyhead to some extent covers his tracks; a painting may be repainted over and over again while its results are wiped back. To allow too much accumulation or sedimentation would sacrifice its clarity. it is a process that cuts back in order to show the internal spatial possibilities that a painting can hold. It is not for nothing that Holyhead speaks of ‘piercing the space open’, since he undoubtedly glimpses potential formal interrelationships during the process of painting that ultimately may only be leads that have to be jettisoned. After meticulous preparation of the canvas – consisting of layers of primer and culminating in an oil ground – the painting is executed in an unusually small window of time: one or two days per painting, which also gives the works a performative brinkmanship – they must be resolved in a relatively short period of time.
In collaboration with Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, and Ridinghouse, London