For their opening exhibition Southard Reid are proud to present recent work by London based artist, Daniel Lipp.
Lipp’s practice is shaped by informed inquisitiveness, and is a response to his wide interest in cultural history. The work results from investigation into the physical properties and conceptual conventions associated with making art, and particularly painting.
For Lipp paintings first are objects made up of stretcher bars, support fabric and paint. They are assembled things on to which he arranges painterly elements. He freely shifts technical and conceptual approaches – drawing on ideas of minimalism and the hand-made, formalism, expressionism, and the use of art historical and contemporary imagery.
He uses a diverse range of materials and techniques. In a work such as Untitled (Kirchner), on a standard shop-bought canvas, using mono-print, Lipp has selected an image, reproduced, traced and inverted, of a painting by the German Expressionist. There is an obvious tension between the mass-produced associations of the materials, informally applied technique, and the reference to the revered hand of the painter Kirchner.
In Lipp’s practice process can take centre stage however he also uses highly controlled and manipulated concepts - Untitled (Business Card) is a painting that presents as a spontaneous collage, fallen from the wall to the floor, face down, the wet paint picking up remnants from the studio floor. When considered with other apparently chance influenced works, doubt is cast over the incidental and questions of intent and authenticity arise.
The formal and conceptual enquiry Lipp embraces in making and presenting work is rhetorical and knowingly so. He investigates painting by exploring approaches to production, however with awareness that ultimately, aesthetically, a painting should exist on its own terms and will go on questioning long after it is made.
Daniel Lipp was born in Basel in 1982. He graduated from Goldsmiths College in 2007. His work has been included in recent group exhibitions at Wiels Project Space, Brussels, 3+1 Arte Contemporanea, Lisbon and Q, London. He lives and works in London.
In fact, one could go further and argue that Lipp slyly undermines minimalism’s good taste in his use of pre-primed canvases. Why agonise over creating something that looks like nothing, when even Ikea now sells mass-produced tasteful ‘paintings’ (Hallaryd, £79) to go with their minimal interiors? Why not instead take nothing (dust or a cheap reproduction) and make it look like something?
As with the balance between abstraction and figuration, Lipp’s work hovers between being just resolved and falling into pure materiality – he calls it that ‘nagging thing’. But this deceptive casualness belies the need for continuous and ruthless decision-making about which works work and which don’t. In the studio, a cluster of plaster-cast objects sits on a table, pending possible elevation to artwork status. Many of them won’t make it.
Lipp likes borrowing art-historical references, although they often re-emerge in surprising new forms.Untitled (Kirchner) takes as its source a reproduction of Nude Walking Into the Sea (1912) by the German Expressionist painter. Lipp has then shrunk the image on a photocopier, and traced the outline of the two naked bathers from the back of the canvas, reducing Kirchner’s signature fauvist colours to a sketchy blue silhouette, like a felt-tip doodle or hastily scribbled carbon copy. The blue recalls Yves Klein but also the banal, administrative colour of office stationery. Yet the graphic simplicity of Lipp’s monoprint on the open-textured weave of the white linen makes the scene even more primal than Kirchner dared, while acknowledging the incongruity in our times of the latter’s love of spontaneity and innocence. Of the modernist genres, the bather scene and exotic primitivism seem to have fallen very far out of fashion – certainly not part of any modernist revival in the 21st century.
Michael Fried’s complaint about minimalist objects was that they seemed to be lying in wait for the viewer, incomplete without their participation. In Lipp’s case, there’s the sense that all the studio props are lying dormant, waiting to be activated by a new process of painting that he is yet to invent. Like the dust paintings, Lipp accidentally created a new technique when he pressed a crumpled dustsheet onto the back of a freshly painted nylon canvas. The effect is an almost imperceptible ghostly imprint, contrasting subtly with the gloss paint; the form is defined through texture and light alone. The image seems to be in the process of developing, like a photograph in the dark room. It takes a while to give itself away. The forms that emerge look organic, even bodily, bringing to mind Yves Klein again with his erotic Anthropometries performances of naked painted models pressing themselves onto canvases. Klein’s and Lipp’s work here both share an indexical relation to a real subject, where the three-dimensional object is itself the agent in the transformation to a two-dimensional representation.
In a more recent series, Lipp simply pushes a canvas down onto a sheet of glass on which he has already mixed his paint colours. Pressing paint onto and through the back of the canvas, photocopying, screenprinting or just sticking objects onto canvas – Lipp is constantly testing ways to transfer an image or material onto a surface. With an ever-increasing repertoire, Lipp notes that his work looks like a group exhibition, an observation he has begun to exploit in his displays in which a large canvas provides the support for a number of smaller works or drawings like a giant pin-board. Back in the studio, a found fishtank acts as an impromptu vitrine for one of his sculptures. Taking the sculpture out, Lipp seems to prefer the fishtank on its own, with all its old watermarks – he has a scavenger’s eye for overlooked patterns and possible forms of mark-making. It’s this curiosity together with his restless experimentation that makes Lipp’s work so potently generative and always unexpected.