Das Platforms / Contemporary Art

Georgina Pollard's 'Through Line'

by Madeleine Preston

13 Nov 2011

A-M Gallery, Sydney

8 September – 1 October 2011

Approaching Georgina Pollard’s Through Line from the front of A-M Gallery, you faced a wall of what appears to be grid paintings on canvas. What you saw when you first looked and what you saw on closer inspection were two very different things.

The work in Through Line addressed what is suggested by the word ‘painting’. The work on the back wall was made up of several small paintings. The word ‘painting’ suggests the work follows the grand narrative of painting – it suggests something specific about how it has been made.

With the exception of two large works on stretched plastic the paint in the work that was included in Through Line is not fixed to canvas. Instead, the paint supports itself through the web of its making. The grid that makes up the individual works reflects the warp and the weft of canvas. The woven works are dripped onto sheets of plastic and, when dry, the plastic backing is removed. The paintings are literally all paint and no canvas. This act of dripping is a conscious examination of gesture and agency of painter and painting.

The drips here are not those of the alpha painter. The drips and spills – the choices that make up the works – are a way of articulating the difficulties of painting: the difficulties of dealing with subjectivity and agency. How do you convince yourself when making work, that the work isn’t about you? If everywhere you go, there you are, then everything you touch has your hand in it. The myth of the individual genius artist – the myth that sells work at auction and drives the art market – is what unsettles Georgina Pollard and is questioned in her work.

The work at A-M Gallery was not limited to one iteration of this question. On the left and right walls, surrounded by larger scale white gridded drip paintings, were two large stretchers with plastic stretched around their frames. These works allowed you to view the stretcher through the surface. The act of painting and creation was made visible, as these two pieces with their repeat gestures of white marks in a grid formation sat in the centre of the exhibition.

Perhaps the most telling effacement of the painter’s subjectivity sat in the far left corner at the back of the gallery. There, facing the owners desk, pinned to the wall again in a grid, were small zip-lock plastic bags containing pools of paint. The act of placing the paint in the gallery elevated its status: no longer a means to an end, paint was both beginning and end.