Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

Eisenstein Paintings early 1990s

Outside, Outside Again (Backwards/Forwards) painting preceded the rest of the Eisenstein paintings.  It followed logically from my other work that I should have first thought of the question of the oblique in these terms, it’s directly related to work like Distraction and it made sense to me to think first of a frontal square with an oblique margin. 

All the paintings are made out of separate stretchers, angled so that when one looked directly at the painting one is looking at obliquely orientated planes, which do not parallel one’s field of vision.  I got the idea from a remark of Eisenstein’s about how there are basically only two kinds of film shot: the direct and the oblique.  During the eighties especially I made more than one kind of work such as Distraction, which have to do with things that go together by not going together; and also more than one kind of work having to do with displacement or deferral, for example Leftward Seduction, which is made out of a gouache whose matte which is a magnified photograph of the center of the gouache, temporal deferral, and to whose decentering the frame’s is responsive, spatial deferral.  In a way these interests came together in these works, which are the result of wanting to make a painting which you’re looking at indirectly when you look at it directly, and where when you look directly at one its planes you see the painting as a whole obliquely.  

    By the time I made those paintings I had for about five years been working with a system in which most of what drawing as opposed to painting does has been relegated to the left hand margin, and where that margin is divided from top to bottom into nineteen.  That way I can repeat the primary colors five times, each beginning with the color that’s in the middle of the sequence above it, and interrupting the five sequences with black or some substitute for it each time to a total of four: the color at the top is also the one at the bottom, it ends with what it starts.

    These paintings are obviously objects. If you look at a flat rectangle it soon becomes a depth in which things can happen.  In these paintings it’s a bit different, because they aren’t flat.  The Eisenstein paintings work like paintings when you look at them from the front, as reliefs that use pictorial space (sort of) when you turn your head.  While they may obviously be objects from the point of view of what you know, you can’t actually ever see them as wholly any such thing.  The yellow prevents you from seeing the color as following or clinging to the receding surface it covers, when viewing it from the front the painting seems far less deep than it actually is.  It’s complex while being very straightforward, and this is the theme that organizes it.