Originally posted 4/4/2014
Was making this thing fun? Well, there wasn’t any actual painting involved, so not as much as if there had been, but there is something undeniably satisfying about a blank canvas. It’s a nice object, easy to make and pleasant to behold considered on material qualities alone. Furthermore, stupid as it is there seemed no reason not to make it. A blank canvas is obviously just a blank canvas, however having posed the question of a reductive limit and in response taken it to this, its exceptionaly complex logical solution, I have an answer; 1-1=0. A painting that is completed with zero action. Doubtless there are numerous examples of the same littering the textbooks. I’m not familiar with them, but to be honest it makes no difference. I made the thing, fully aware that it’s just a bit daft, and I present it here as a terminally bifurcated punchline.
A thought I often have when beginning a painting: What is about to be made could be the best painting ever. This is entirely and undeniably true – it could happen. Only when the first mark is made is that potential lost. So far this has occurred with unerring regularity. Call it a 100% failure rate.
The worst part of making a painting is that first stroke. The one that kills potential dead and confirms the likely outcome; regrettably this is not going to be the world’s best painting after all. Following that any further work one attempts has as much chance of improving it as it does pushing it in the opposite direction, therefore a painting comprising just that first mark is immeditely more likely to be the worst painting ever made than the best, which gives some context to the series At least things can’t get any worse.
But this ‘painting’ avoids the problem entirely. I haven’t ruined it so far and I don’t intend to. As long as that remains the case it could yet be the very best. Maybe even forever. The fact is I’ve ruined it time and again. This particular stretcher has supported 7 or 8 different attempts and until now as many failures. It’s my single most abandoned painting and so makes an apt choice for this particular work. It shan’t fail again. From now on it could always be the most beautiful girl in the world.
Having come up with this answer to my query, There is probably little reason to pursue the question of reduction further. On a reasonable level this is clearly the end. Consideration of anything that could exist between the single stroke painting and the blank canvas means reducing that one stroke without it disappearing entirely, and as far as I can see this can only be done on a minute and insignificant level – make it smaller, remove colour and so on. I’m not paricularly keen to get sidetracked by uneccessary theory. Martin Creed made what I think is the best minimalist artwork with his light going on & off. and anyway, I’m not a minimalist. The work has taken on the appearance of minimalism essentially, but does not subscribe to it excusively. Whilst I don’t rule out the possibility of progress on this front, it’s not something that is going to be offered a great deal of ongoing consideration at this time.