Andrew Dadson returns to RaebervonStenglin with a suite of all white paintings. The Canadian artist uses paint as a sculptural medium, building it into thick accumulations that are scraped and shaped with a variety of tools. In these new, extravagantly impasto works, the painted canvas becomes a relief, and the pigment’s tactile and physical properties come to the fore, making visible the theatre of their making as they white out what lies beneath.
Far from expressing purity, the white of Dadson’s paintings is imperfect, soiled with stabs of bright color that in places can be seen on the surface and elsewhere sully their monochrome covering. His white resembles not so much snow as clay: a dense, malleable mass whose provenance is the earth rather than the sky, its forms the result of manipulation rather than nature. Geometry is similarly eschewed in favor of exuberant lines and curves whose shapes are never regular. These have a push and pull dynamism, the space of one element affecting the other to create compositions which team with energy. Abstract forms have been made using studio detritus as moulds and templates to form built up areas of paint that the artist has worked into with tools as well as brushes, combining bold, hard-edged three-dimensional expression with delicate brush strokes and subtle permeations of color. Volume and mark have become one in these works, which far from aiming at tabular rasa celebrate the stuff of life, conveying their own history and the performance of the studio.
Dadson has long subverted the idea of the monochrome. He gained attention as a young artist for making direct interventions into the landscape, ‘Yard’ and ‘Lawn’ paintings that transformed patches of outdoor space into monochrome squares happening on top of grass, shrubs and random bric-a-brac; while canvas works often saw heavy applications of paint scraped onto their edges where they form dense masses of pigment that hang off the top or bottom edges. Such works articulate boundaries and emphasize process. They evidence change and the embrace the impossibility of total control, seen especially in the blackening of plants which are able to withstand the artist’s imposition and continue to grow, outlasting and ousting the artwork. The works on show at RaebervonStenglin have a similar openness to chance and topographic sensibility. The rectangle of each canvas becomes a field for action, each work a landscape shaped and scarred by man’s interventions, yet simultaneously they are abstract compositions all the while referencing the studio, the artist’s actions and their medium. The resultant paintings are monochromes characterized, however perversely, by pluralism.