Grids Part 2

If in some cases two-dimensional grids stand for one kind of reduction of painting, the question is how far can we generalize this notion—to which other artists does it apply, bearing in mind that they themselves may not hold this view. I think that the wire grids of Gego are strongly pictorial, and the small chicken wire study pieces of Eva Hesse at least reminiscent of painting. A three-dimensional grid, like those of Judd or Sol Lewitt, is definitely sculpture, with some allegorical relation to the steel beam curtain wall construction of classic modernist architecture. A grid without the third axis, folded over on itself, brings the picture plane into real space.

hesse

Eva Hesse, Test Piece, 1960s

Here the application of fabric makes the resemblance to painting more plausible. In fact the piece does resemble the Christian Bonnefoi work I included in the post “Principles of Abstraction.” The grid is transparent, so the pictorial support reveals itself, and the applied material (paper in the Bonnefoi) presents opacity as one of the constituting elements of painting up till now. This is explicit in the Bonnefoi installation; I would like say that it applies to Hesse’s small work as well, even though she likely didn’t think that way. Definitely the most attractive aspect is the folding, which has a kind of tenderness, although the colour is also very affecting. Does the tactile and sculptural exclude the optical and pictorial? On the face of it, it’s a dumb question, but I want to ask it because I want to track the appearances of painting after the shedding of paint and brushes.

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