For his new series of digital prints, Tim Maguire incorporates elements of chance into the creative process. They hit you right in the retina, a field of phosphorescent hues blending one into another in textured gradations, from turquoise to canary yellow, violet to midnight blue, scarlet to tree-frog green. The effect is both disorientating and strangely clarifying: gazing at these gridded squares of colour, one feels perceptually sunburnt yet at the same time exceptionally alert.
Dice Abstracts is the latest instalment in Tim Maguire’s wide-ranging, 35-year career, which has seen him explore the overlap between painting, printmaking, photography and the moving image. This audacious series of prints epitomises Maguire’s restless curiosity and desire to break new visual ground in its mapping of the harmonies and dissonances that exist between analogue and digital techniques.
Why audacious? Because Maguire has partially outsourced the creative act to chance – to ‘virtual’ dice rolls, no less – by inventing a process that randomly determines the chromatic and formal composition of each image. In so doing he situates himself within a rich tradition of artists and collectives, from Duchamp and Dada to Fluxus and Fischli/Weiss, that have harnessed aleatory impulses to push their art-making into uncharted territory.
Maguire’s exhibition at Tolarno Galleries is built around two sets of prints. The largest is a grouping of 10 works (each 100 x 100 cm) selected from the first 50 dice combinations thrown. Produced in Paris by master printer Franck Bordas, with whom Maguire has worked for almost two decades, they were first shown in the survey exhibition Tim Maguire | Mixing Numbers: A Survey of Prints and Video 2003–2018 at Maitland Regional Art Gallery in November 2018.
A lysergic tapestry of interweaving hues, Dice Abstracts exploits 19th-century French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul’s law of simultaneous contrast to concoct combinations that seem perceptually counterintuitive – how could green ever be so ‘hot’, or red so dark-star ‘cool’?
Thrillingly alive in their emissive, soft-edge abstraction, Dice Abstracts call to mind Josef Albers’ nested squares, Barnett Newman’s ‘zip’ and vertical-band paintings and Victor Vasarely’s psychedelic geometry, all practitioners whose bodies of work have informed Maguire’s own progression.
Accompanying the prints are two moving image works, one of which recreates the Dice Abstracts concept in digital video, slow-fading between hundreds of iterations over 105 minutes.
– Tony Magnusson, April 2019