Martin Pearce: Drawing into Painting
Works in the exhibition
We are pleased to present a solo exhibition of new painting works with cold wax and encaustic by UK-born, Guelph-based artist Martin Pearce.
Drawings that seek to precisely represent complex visual phenomena are irresistible; anatomical, architectural and botanical renderings, from Durer to The Draughtsman’s Contact, all are examples of a concentration on the particular optics of a situation at hand.
These paintings engage with the optical structures of various trees. While some of them begin with the appropriation of images from an aptly titled manual, How to Draw Trees, the majority employ an apparatus – the camera lucida; initially, again, through appropriation, now of the extraordinary drawings Sir John Herschel made using a lucida in the 1830’s and, since then using the device itself to draw from observation. That pre-chemical photographic technology is bookended in making these works with the use of a 21st century projector.
The essential procedural act in making these paintings is to drag or push a pointed tool into a surface that is soft enough to hold a mark (this connects the work to drawing and to drypoint) and then to rub paint over that surface so the scored line is (partially) filled.
The wax base, or ground, is itself uneven - made with an encaustic technique; the characteristics of the surface are determined by conditions of chance – painted at speed with an unmanageable, unpredictable material. So, the representation of the tree becomes fragmentary, its figure/ground relationship nuanced. The result is a kind of visual negotiation between control and looseness and between time-consuming fastidiousness and the flick of a projector switch.