Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

Foreign Body, 1991

Foreign Body (1991,) Rough Red Rug (1988,) and Rubber Diptych (1996, formerly known as Compliment and also I don’t trust this date,) have in common that they are made of or include materials with which you already have tactile associations, which moreover have nothing necessarily to do with art (unlike oil paint): one is made of two pieces of Plexiglas with a layer of felt sandwiched between them, the surface of another is paint on a piece of already bright orange bathroom rug, the third is made of rubber.  You can only see the felt but you know what it feels like, also what the rug felt like before it was submerged into and stiffened by multiple brush loads of red paint, the rubber painting is tiny and you can imagine picking it up and weighing nothing.  They’re all soft in one’s associations with them but not quite so here.  The properties of black felt visible only through their opposite, it black and soft while the Plexi is transparent and hard; the rug was but is no longer something anything could sink into and get dry; the painted part of the diptych is harder and stiffer (conservation warning) than what it’s on.  Unlike most of my work you see these as things to a great extent.  You still find yourself looking into them as much as at them, but their physical composition plays a much more intrusive role than usual in one’s sense of what each work is materially speaking. 

    I do not make works out of non-art materials to raise the (surely archaic now although still popular) questions of whether something may be painting even though it’s not linen on canvas, I make them assuming they’ll be read as paintings and wondering what that will be like.