Making the time to see painting permeate perception
with Ian Grose
Everyone is in a rush. No one has time. There’s no time to stop, to be encountered and slowly perceived. That takes time and no one has it. Presenting painted portraiture, still life and figuration as the point where people and time meet, Ian Grose attempts to resolve the conflict between the stillness and time that paintings require versus the surface level depictions garnered in photographs. While both mediums suffice, Grose intends to confront their respective artificiality. Featured in this week’s Re:View we examine the artist’s attempt at finding new ways of forming perceptions.
Making quick drawings that later developed into detailed paintings, Ian Grose’s exhibition, People and Time seeks to find out whether perceptions are imposed or innate. “As for me, once I’ve started there are so many problems to resolve in so little time that I’m able to avoid, I hope, the self-consciousness that ruins paintings,” explains Grose.
Some friends, some friends of friends and a stranger here and there, the subjects featured in People and Time depict an intimacy with the artist that may not always translate to real life. Colleagues in cultural work, the writers, performance artists, gallerists, fashion designers and musicians in People and Time come together to create a fictional window into what the artist’s actual creative counsel looks like.
Without begging its audiences to do so, one of the things that People and Time subtly remedies is the ways that audiences often objectify public facing cultural workers.
With online platforms making it easy for us to buy, learn from and be entertained by our peers around the clock, capitalist consumption has become king. Under these sets of rules, people often perceive each other based on their potential as a resource. With ease, people are reduced to brands that work to be worthy of their audience’s attention, endorsements, public affirmations, time and money. Fixated on output, our product potential is more of a focus than our humanity.
Attempting to flip this, through lived and imagined proximity, People and Time gives its subjects (and audience in turn) room to comfortably share parts of their essence that don’t fit into the tight mould the public uses to perceive them.
With subtle white borders coming together to make a frame, the realistic paintings read like polaroids that come after friends respond, “sure you can take a picture of me. What is it for?”
It’s in the way subjects reluctantly rest their faces on their fists. Their bodies naked and hunched into unpleasant shapes. It’s the sheepish smiles and irritated furrow brows. Painting from a place of performed or existing familiarity, there isn’t a weird dynamic between the subject, narrator and audience.
While they’re intimate snapshots, collectively the paintings tell us more about the artist and his gaze than they do about the people he paints: Rather than making an explicit assertion, Grose pours energy into his keen interest in studying the layers and textures in and surrounding the people he encounters.
People and Time closes at Stevenson in Parktown North on 18 March 2023.