Andrew Grassie’s starting point is a re-examination of the fundamental question of what to paint. He turns this question on its head, producing paintings which present a series of compelling propositions about painting itself, recording and representing scenarios such as the circumstances of their own production or display.
This way of working developed out of an impasse he found himself in while studying at the Royal College of Art. Under pressure to develop a ‘signature’ style, Grassie worked his way through many stylistic models, eventually reaching what he felt was a dead end. His response to this was to start painting copies of his own work: a solution reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s resignation, ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’ Yet Grassie also found that in making what at ﬁrst seemed like a kind of ‘dumb’ gesture – a wilfully negationist action in that it seemed to deny creativity - something new and interesting emerged. (Tate)
Firstly I made copies of my own actual paintings, fakes as it were. Then I started copying photographs of my work and that of others in galleries. The relief was tremendous. Instead of making a new work, reaching forward into the void, I started to see the end goal before I had even started. All I had to do was to try to get there. Of course what was interesting was how the copy differed from the original. It seemed muffled, wrapped in a fine film, frozen. Qualities of stillness and silence that appeared as an inevitable part of this process. (Floorr magazine)
By fusing the reportage of photography and the fresco quality of tempera, Grassie manages to intensify the awareness of his viewers, even while he reminds us that art works are never read by the casual viewer alone; they are read collectively, by the gallery, by curators, by an impossibly ornate machinery, in which our perception spins unawares. (Michael Harris, Frieze)
Grassie has said: ‘I am as much interested in the differences that occur in the “look” of my paintings from the photographs, and what this implies, than any proximity. They seem now to refer to the “silent gaze” of much seventeenth-century Dutch art and to certain forms of minimalism more than to photo-realism.’ (Tate)
9.15 Arrive at studio.
9.20 Crack eggs and mix pigments.
9.30 Radio on, sit down to paint.
11.30 Move a little.
1.00 Bowl of soup at Portuguese Cafe.
4.30 Clean out paint tray.
4.45 Cycle home to family.
(Variant: 1.00 Jacket potato at Portuguese Cafe.)
Andrew Grassie (b. Edinburgh 1966) studied at St Martins School of Art and Royal College of Art. He exhibits regularly including solo shows at Maureen Paley, London, Tate Britain, Sperone Westwater New York, Talbot Rice Gallery Edinburgh, Johnen Galerie Berlin and Rennie Collection Vancouver. He has lectured extensively across a range of institutions in the UK. Several of his works are in major collections: Goetz (Munich), Rennie Collection (Vancouver) and Tate, Arts Council and Government Art Collections (UK).
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