Selected Compositions is an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Matthis Grunsky. The work explores the role of subjectivity in painting, using computational processes to generate colour, composition, and pattern. These elements of partial automation distance the formal specifics of the work from its physical realization, similar to the ways in which certain practices of conceptual art use statements, instructions or scores. Contrary to these predominantly language based systems, however, this exhibition is aimed at exploring the more intuitive processes of aesthetic decision making that are (often romantically) associated with painting.
Grunsky questions how our experience of colour can be liberated from the grasp of language through abstraction. Everyday language is decidedly unequipped for meaningful discussion of colour, and symbolic or representational language typically overwhelm attempts at specificity; perverting the perception of colour with names like ‘Dusky Dawn’, ‘Fresh Lime’, or ‘Blueberry Popover’. Within the context of painting, where accurate description of colour is paramount, conventional language maintains vestigial meaning, recalling medieval histories, names of mineral ores, or alchemic processes. These associations, however fascinating, alter how colour is understood and limit freedoms in both expression and perception. Although undoubtedly steeped in its own chromatic histories, the language of computer colour offers an alternative to the dominance of pigment-based discourse around colour in painting.
The main body of work featured in Selected Compositions is a family of ‘gum paintings’ which began in 2011. Early paintings in this series are reproductions of patterns of chewing gum stuck on blocks of city sidewalk. Using found composition in this way allows a fragmentation of the creative process and the isolation of key moments of aesthetic decision making. The dotted patterns function as indexes of compositional structure; creating constellations of meaning in a connect-the-dot-like manner.
Moving away from actual sidewalks, the paintings in this exhibition depict information generated through computation. Purpose written computer programs use random numbers to create an endless stream of images from which compositions are chosen. In this way, the selection of form and colour is distanced from established systems of compositional structure or colour theory, and more closely resembles the chance encounters that inspired the original paintings in this series. Selected Compositions questions conventional ideas around compositional structure and colour theory in favour of a more intuitive, experiential approach to painting.