Texture Over Context

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Oct 3, 2014 1:30AM

             For our Emerging Curator Collection we chose to address the works formal elements. While browsing the directory, we found ourselves attracted to images or sculptures that evoked us to question its formal qualities before its content or context. Specifically texture. The pieces by Robert Rauschenberg demonstrate this collection well. As an abstract expressionist early in his practices, Rauschenberg accentuated and experimented with the qualities of paint.  Further in time, he began integrating three-dimensional objects, and their textures into his works.

            The pieces we have chosen for our collection vary in their question of texture. Various artists use paint, metals, fibrous and a variety of materials. Other pieces in the collection address texture perceptually. Photographs, projections and drawings of textured surfaces can be found in my compilation.

            Perceptual texture can be thought of as your mind’s tactile interpretation of a two-dimensional image. Essentially when you see an image that calls its form into question, and one’s mind thinks of rigid, soft, jagged, coarse, smooth, any number of descriptors.

            Rauschenberg’s untitled (Gold Painting) composition from 1953 embodies the central idea of this collection. Texture is called into question long before content or contextual elements. Even viewed from a computer screen, an overwhelming sense of touch arises. The work is a manipulated combination of newspaper, paint, wood in a wood and glass frame.                          

           Another untitled composition from Rauschenberg, created in 1955 demonstrates this texture over content or form over context idea. The monochromatic piece is made of fabric, newspaper, string, nails, wood and a funnel. One’s mind feels these works from Rauschenberg ever before seeing them.

       This exemplary piece from Lina Scheynius (untitled (Diary) 2013) illustrates perceptual texture. Viewing this image calls to mind the surface tension, the wetness, the tactile sense of one’s mind feels the spherical, soapy bubbles. The nature of this fiber-based silver gelatin print provides warmth and dynamism, awakening the perceived texture. Context and subject matter take a secondary role in this image.

              Hannah Whitaker’s Parian Marble (2011) provides another example of the central idea of this collection. This is an archival pigment print. Combining texture and color in this image removes its context. The print seems rough, almost serrated in its basic foundation. But its surface is covered in an almost oily, iridescent sheen. Whitaker’s eye and process capture this natural form and almost change its form to something like a painting. The light and color create a whole new perceptual texture.

             Whitaker, Scheynius and other contemporary artists featured in this collection feature texture in their work. They practice and experiment in the same way that Rauschenberg did throughout his prolific life.

              Every piece we chose calls its formal elements into question whether three-dimensionally or perceptually. As you view the collection, I hope to induce your thoughts about texture, material and form.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019