Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

Unstretched Paintings 

The unstretched paintings began by accident.  I was in the studio and it was Sunday afternoon, too late to by a piece of plywood and I didn’t have a stretcher, and by a process I’ve forgotten I persuaded myself to work on a scrap of canvas, it would be the first time ever or something that I’d worked on a shape I’d not chosen or determined.  I’d use the scrap as it was.  

    I made nine of them.  In all of them I used what was there and responded to it.  Some of them seem to me to have a bias, in the shape of the scrap, towards certain kinds of movement (Snake, for instance.)  Others seem to me to have let me think about formlessness in a slightly different way than otherwise, because (as with Formlessness itself) the shape of the canvas is what it is.  Certainly it has a shape that one can describe (although everything is imprecise, so one would have to describe it minutely or broadly) but what does one see?  Unlike the case if it were a stretched rectangle, I don’t think I gave any thought to how the color was altering the shape it was in/on, as would be the case normally, but rather I think if anything I did the reverse.  I put the paint on looking for what shape there was, for once it was vague.  

    These paintings and other things I did and said around that time obliged me then to say what I’ll note here:  I’m interested in ‘formlessness’ as something which is not form, and I distinguish this from the ‘unformed,’ which implies a formlessness that is a condition on the way to final state of a form.