John Hurrell – 22 October, 2010
Wells has chosen a ‘restful' support for paint; something suitable for dreaming that encourages the imagination to wander. The scumbled acrylic paint marks on some of the cloth panels seem the result of unconscious processes and may have all the different sized canvases butted together to make one huge work.
1 October - 23 October 2010
In this exhibition ten large stretchers are stacked against three unwindowed Gambia Castle walls. Bearing a variety of taut and sometimes painted bed sheets (of different materials), Gambia stalwart Tao Wells here seems to be exploring a symbolism of restful oblivion and the nature of sleep. Like many earlier artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Guillermo Kuitca who have used mattresses to paint on, Wells has chosen a ‘restful’ support; something suitable for dreaming that encourages the imagination to wander. The scumbled acrylic paint marks on some of the cloth panels seem the result of unconscious processes and may have all the different sized canvases butted together to make one huge work.
The title suggests anger and mental unrest that is straining to be kept in check - smouldering resentment. So why the title paired with painted sheets? Maybe it’s a reference to nightmares, bedwetting, furtive or messy sex, or some painting or installation (like this) that the artist is deeply ashamed of that he is compelled to exhibit? Perhaps he ran out of time? (Perhaps it is a run-of-the-mill stunt?)
Wells’ organisation in the gallery is such that the visitor approaches the paintings tangentially, seeing their leaned-up ends from the sides near the corners of the space. This approach to the installation is more informative than that of looking at them frontally, where rectangular sections of works at the back peek up above and behind the assorted stretchers pressing against them on the outside. The work has vague similarities with the stacking methods of the French conceptual painter Claude Rutault.
Most of the stretchers are double squares, with contrasting degrees of translucency in the cotton or flannelette sheets that reveal the corner struts and braces. It is difficult to imagine what they might look like as solo paintings hung in isolation on a plain wall. A few are back-to-front but I suspect the paintless ones - devoid of skimpy red or white (quickly applied) marks might be the best - if it is understated minimalist painting that you happen to be looking for. Here in this show they collectively serve as an installation of scruffy diaphanous stained slabs that you walk into the centre of - a repository of perhaps to be completed works that you have accidentally stumbled upon - and which like most dreams, you will probably quickly forget soon after you have left the building.