‘The common place with significance, the ordinary with mystery, the familiar with the seemliness of the unfamiliar, the finite with the semblance of the infinite.’ – Timotheus Vermeulen & Robin van den Akker, Notes on metamodernism, 2010. Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, 2:1.
Sanderson present Thrum, an exhibition of new works by Damien Kurth. Thrum refers to the creation of a rhythmic sound using consistent, repeated humming. The exhibition title plays off the term ‘reverb’ – the title of Kurth’s previous show, which describes a persistence of sound or an echo after a sound is initiated. Reverb introduced a new way to view the artist’s work; as a site of contradictory ideas and perceptions. Thrum echoes these ideas, building on them through Kurth’s use of closely observed representational painting.
The ‘still life’ has been used as a genre for artists to pursue formal experimentation and philosophical investigation for centuries. In Kurth’s paintings, commonplace objects provide an opportunity for the artist to focus on the physical act of painting whilst interrogating philosophical concepts of perception and semiotics. Kurth’s previous exhibition Reverb explored the idea that our perception cannot simultaneously hold onto multiple interpretations (i.e what is abstract and representational) but instead oscillates between the two. This experience allows a fissure in one’s perception to occur; revealing new possibilities and modes of experience.
A bevel cut crystal glass, an old jar, a patterned tin; these objects are often overlooked and considered mundane. However, sitting central in Kurth’s compositions and devoid of situational context, the familiarity of these everyday objects dissipates, and they gain an element of mystery and intrigue. Kurth’s commonplace objects possess the ‘seemliness of the unfamiliar’ or ‘Jamais vu’ a term used to describe the experience of being unfamiliar with something that is normally very familiar.
The artist uses a traditional ground gesso, building the painting’s surface slowly; each stroke of oil working with the other to create a harmonic whole. Delicately painted sheets of paper and masking tape subtly divide the picture plane, creating a sense of depth. Fluorescent pink post-it notes punctuate the composition of Thrum, drawing the viewer’s eye across the gathering of vessels and achieving an overall sense of balance and harmony. Kurth’s arrangements hold innumerable possibilities; they are loaded with the symbolic. The artist does not ascribe specific meanings to the symbols that occupy his compositions, however. Instead, they sit ready for the viewer to project their own interpretations and perceptions onto them.
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