2018 – CCLXV (265)
PAUL NEWCOMBE | CCLXV (265)
6 – 22 September 2018
Pondering upon Constructivism in 1967, the celebrated US sculptor George Ricky wrote, “the choice of the nature of the image is within the authority and free will of the artist. The artist may choose geometry, intuition, or a combination of both; he may delegate his determination to some mathematical expression [or] to chance. Yet the initial choice which determines the character of the eventual image is made by the artist.” (Ricky, 1967, p.38)
Paul Newcombe’s current practice presents a distinct departure from the confines and philosophies of constructivism. However, it is George Ricky’s contemplation upon the notion of the artist’s authority which underscores each and every one of Paul’s selected 265 works on paper. An exhibition of this scale and immensity is of exceptional pertinence to Paul’s oeuvre and to the work which lead him to this point. CCLXV (265) presents Paul’s most ambitious undertaking to date.
Moving throughout this meticulously codified exhibition emerge but five distinct schools of thought. Each a precursor to the next, clearing the path before him to allow for safe travel into the ensuing dimension. It is here that I build upon the clichéd noun, dimension, to encompass its multitude of meanings which coalesce Paul’s various schools of thought. They are evident in the strict parameters and mathematical language of measurements that has captivated Paul’s mind for the duration of this exhibition’s development. They speak of a phenomenological notion of creating voids within the centers of numerous paintings. They signify the various shifting forms comprising this dynamic exhibition. They indicate the rich and ever-changing aspects to Paul’s on-going artistic practice, which has embraced various mediums across many platforms from theatre and set design to sculpture, puppet making, painting and illustration. And finally they create the majestic and sacred space of the gallery, where we all exist momentarily in a world constructed by the artist.
These five schools of thought reflect the numerous readings upon the word dimension, and each is of particular concern to the artist who presents to us CCLXV. In a dynamic entwine, each dimension renders a specific way the artist approaches object and spatial relationships; mark making and mathematics; colour associations and texture; installation and viewer. Each painting presents Paul’s ability to move seamlessly between and within one faction to the other. And as a set, they speak to each other via repetition of motif and symbol.
It is with each separate painting that Paul affords himself the authority to experiment, problem solve, play and bring into being what we now see.
Artists are often plagued by the notion that less is more. A smaller more refined exhibition outweighs a vast array of product. They can be afraid that the greatest pieces will not be heard among the crowds. Paul’s commanding authority is adorned like armor with section after section being added incrementally over a career spanning almost forty years of learning and interrogation. Here is an artist unafraid of large crowds and an artist unwilling to accept that the smaller voices will not be heard. This artist has something to say.
Ballarat International Foto Biennale
Ricky, G. (1995). Constructivism: origins and evolution. New York: George Braziller, 1995.