Written by Marijke Uittenbroek
Translation by Auke van den Berg
For John Tallman (1969, York, Pa., U.S.A.), not the object/painting itself is the primary goal, but the artist’s mental process. His works are not paintings or sculptures in a traditional sense, and then again they are. His working method entails the construction of moulds in the shape of a painting, into which he pours pigments and various resins, such as polyurethane. The end result is simultaneously two- and three-dimensional. To emphasize this ambiguity, Tallman does not hang his works straight onto the wall; as a result, they become more of objects than ‘paintings’ that offer a glance into a different world through the creation of illusions. His formal language is deliberately limited: there are square works and round ones; limiting himself to an autonomous abstract vocabulary, the artist feels free; any personal emotion is thus banned from his work and he deliberately refrains from making any political statements. It is the mental processes of the artist during the creation of his work that count, nothing else. Through reduction he aims to give the viewer access to this mental process, focusing particularly on the questioning of the principles of the notion of a ‘painting’. He is fascinated, for instance, by how objects (paintings) influence their environment, the effect of gravity in painting, the area behind the painting. In brief, he is basically concerned with the essence of painting, or rather, the painting. In his artist’s statement he states that he is fascinated by the theoretical possibility of making a composition that repeats itself endlessly, the substance (the skin of the painting), but also the position of abstraction. Tallman poses questions, and the work resulting form these questions raises new questions, resulting in new works that are in part repetitions yet subtly different within his restricted formal language, as if it were a kind of modernist Droste effect*.