Lydia Gifford
FIAC Paris
22 Oct 2014 – 26 Oct 2014





Laura Bartlett Gallery is delighted to present at Lafayette, FIAC 2014 British artist Lydia Gifford (b. 1979, UK). The presentation consists of an entirely new body of work produced specifically for the fair which explores Gifford’s on-going concern with the language of painting and the balance between painting and object. The processual approach Gifford takes to the construction of surfaces finds an analogy in her nuanced concessions to the physical encroachment of the painting’s support into space. The works made for FIAC will be an expanded choreography of encounters, gestures and conversations with the late stage of production undertaken on, and in relation to, the site of presentation.


With physical and spatial considerations at the core of her work, Gifford tests painting processes and the limitations of media. Conceiving paintings that border on sculptural territory, the artist often undertakes the last stage of production on site, for example by painting directly onto the wall. Physical positioning is key in Gifford’s consideration of space, concerning the people or places to which it relates or indeed the absence it represents. Reminiscent of architectural panelling or cladding, structures are constructed from found and mostly uneven boards that are wrapped with canvas, solidified with countless layers of specially produced and mixed paints. Each surface is characterised by different structures of the work process: layers of an oil and chalk mixture in predominantly subtle colours penetrate the colour base forming plastic compounds, whilst traces left by pigment cause for other colours to spread.

Despite their irregularity Gifford’s works bear a tangible serenity: graphic lines that jut out at awkward angles can be seen to rest against each other, whilst the rawness of materials is offset by powdered pastel hues that result in a smoothness of form. When viewed along different lines of sight, the works appear to be shape-shifting, testimony to the parallax effect of perspective. Just as a new composition becomes visible, that which was seen before continues to linger, reminding the viewer of what now remains hidden. Like gestures in space, the objects enact a dance of palpable rhythm.

In considering the act of painting as a corporeal process, individually painted elements fit with the physical size of the artist – the boards are not much longer than her arms – whilst their placement is further determined by physical references such as the constant repositioning of the viewer. This movement continues within the works’ contingency for reconfiguration, as the interplay of surface and texture emits a visual rhythm in which floating, falling or rising signs both come together and drift apart. Featuring in arrangements that consist of several parts, shapes are not defined a priori as a conceptual starting point, but explored in the process of emergence. Caught in the midst of articulating themselves, they enact a set of painterly gestures coalescing into acts of communication – visual, experiential, linguistic.


Lydia Gifford’s painterly syntax is an investigation into form’s possibilities to communicate and solidify meaning and points to a return to an original state where thoughts and images are indistinct – intention and indeterminacy converging and settling into shapes and underscoring a continuous movement, situating themselves on the boundaries of linguistic comprehension and performing a subtle choreography of the space they inhabit.