POSITION POINT - Outline

This working methodology has been developed from two other projects which have been investigated for the past seven years; ‘I.E.B (CONSTRUCTION)’ and ‘UNTITLED (blueprint)’. Both these projects deal with the concept of deconstructing and then reconstructing both existing architectural spaces as well as conceptualised ones and from this work is produced in varying material forms e.g. wall paintings, models, installation etc. From this the POSITION POINT project deals with the urban network as a model for spatial construction and this is used as a starting point to produce canvas and wall paintings, architectural models, and drawings which investigate the way in which we see visual phenomena in our constructed spaces.

The finished works oscillate between presentation and representation using methods which reduce the visual phenomena to their bare essentials, through the varying permutations in the work. By reducing the possibilities within the construction of the work allows those elements which are added or left to be heightened and from this, further areas of investigation are exposed. The work has the ability to change within its construction, installation, presentation and materiality, however the work still retains its internal logic and thus the conceptual framework of the project is able to be shifted in new directions while still referencing its own methodology.

The project is concerned with expanding upon the aesthetic possibilities arising from thematic attention to architectural visibility and urban development. The work incorporates the wall as an internal logic within the works methodology instead of as a passive backdrop or neutral element of enclosure. The project enables a multi-faceted and open-ended visual experience to be produced through the exploration of relationships between the spaces we occupy as individuals, to the spaces we construct through our conceptual ideas, to the space the work occupy’s as an object. The work is used as a visual tool to represent further conceptual development, and this enables the project to embrace the notion of expressing the multiple, almost endless, facets of visual possibilities that can be produced.

Kyle Jenkins 2005

UNTITLED (BLUEPRINT) - Definition

This working methodology has been developed from two other projects which have been investigated for the past seven years; ‘I.E.B (CONSTRUCTION)’ and ‘UNTITLED (blueprint)’. Both these projects deal with the concept of deconstructing and then reconstructing both existing architectural spaces as well as conceptualised ones and from this work is produced in varying material forms e.g. wall paintings, models, installation etc. From this the POSITION POINT project deals with the urban network as a model for spatial construction and this is used as a starting point to produce canvas and wall paintings, architectural models, and drawings which investigate the way in which we see visual phenomena in our constructed spaces.

The finished works oscillate between presentation and representation using methods which reduce the visual phenomena to their bare essentials, through the varying permutations in the work. By reducing the possibilities within the construction of the work allows those elements which are added or left to be heightened and from this, further areas of investigation are exposed. The work has the ability to change within its construction, installation, presentation and materiality, however the work still retains its internal logic and thus the conceptual framework of the project is able to be shifted in new directions while still referencing its own methodology.

The project is concerned with expanding upon the aesthetic possibilities arising from thematic attention to architectural visibility and urban development. The work incorporates the wall as an internal logic within the works methodology instead of as a passive backdrop or neutral element of enclosure. The project enables a multi-faceted and open-ended visual experience to be produced through the exploration of relationships between the spaces we occupy as individuals, to the spaces we construct through our conceptual ideas, to the space the work occupy’s as an object. The work is used as a visual tool to represent further conceptual development, and this enables the project to embrace the notion of expressing the multiple, almost endless, facets of visual possibilities that can be produced.

Kyle Jenkins 2005

MONOCHROME COWBOY - Statement

The Monochrome Cowboy film oscillates between presentation and representation through a reduction in the visual phenomena that takes place within each scene. From this those elements that are left are able to be developed through varying permutations which take place through both then visual and audio within each scene. The work has the ability to change within its construction, installation, and presentation, however the work still retains its internal logic and thus the conceptual framework of the project is able to be shifted in new directions while still referencing its own methodology. The aim of this project was to both one reference a methodological practice within reduction which I have been engaged with for the past 10 years, and two to create a linear dialogue through a movie which demonstrates a different perspective of a personalised history.

The Monochrome Cowboy film incorporates a personalised history which represents how we as individuals always carry with us and incorporate into our work a personalised history as individuals. A history that is important in understanding how practitioners and their work have internal logics which influence the methodology they are engaged in. The film enables a multi-faceted and open-ended visual experience to be produced through the exploration of relationships between the spaces we occupy as individuals, to the spaces we construct through our conceptual ideas, to the space the work occupy’s as an object. The work is used as a visual tool to represent further conceptual development, and this enables the film to embrace the notion of expressing the multiple, almost endless, facets of visual possibilities that can be produced. The Monochrome Cowboy film is at once an autonomous work as art object, yet at the same time a documentary on where we as practitioners come from and how we continue to carry that personalised history with us through all the aesthetic possibilities arising from our working methodologies.

Kyle Jenkins 2006

RAYGUN INTERVIEW - Oct 2011

ANSWERS - Raygun gallery interview with Kyle Jenkins by Tarn McLean

 

1. As a practicing artist what are the issues\concerns you have been consistently addressing within your artwork?

I think being an artist is a really serious occupation. In Europe it is equal to being a doctor or a lawyer as all three are about humanity, the body and about our physicality and existence within time, place and space. A doctor obviously keeps the body healthy, a lawyer protects the rights of the body in some form or another, and as for art well no other animal / entity creates to the extent that we create, where artworks give us faith in things we can sometimes see and experience but in other moments make us rethink things we take for granted. Artwork also presents us with possibilities, where to see the work you need to look at it, then through it and finally beyond it to find the not only the reason for it existing but for the possibilities that are inherent within it.

My practice for the past 13 years has been concerned with aspects of intuitive abstraction which incorporates hard edge and organic abstraction as well shifting methodologies of mark making and spatial narratives that are situated within painting, collage, photography, maquettes, books, film, wall paintings and works on paper. These works involve the deconstruction and reconstruction of various relationships between conceptualised and physical interpretations of space. As humans we confine, expand and grid various interpretations of space into evolving forms of activity and it is through this continuing synthesis that the work has continued to be developed.

Currently my aim is to expand upon the aesthetic possibilities of structures and how these are a way of examining the world as a series of abstract compositions and constructions. Through this the composition of the work is a procedure of sampling and layering space, ideas and theories using the various ideas of layering and collage not only as technique but also as a strategy. The work as a whole is a series of relational forms or fields of opportunities rather than separate and limited objects, and thus creates a system of references, hybrids, negotiations and reinterpretations from work to work, image to image.

Through the very basic elements of line, colour, form and surface the work investigates how the double exposure between what the image looks like and how it is constructed and the displacement of space can lead to new spatial experiences. Thus the work creates a kind of ‘play’ between form and void - for example the form of the gap in one art piece constitutes the actual shape of the next one. This method of working further investigates the connections between formal and informal methodologies of abstraction and thus the work constantly examines the mapping and reconstruction of imagined urban terrains, geometry, colour, representation and fractural compositions.

2. Do you classify your art as being one thing more than the other e.g. Painting, sculpture, music or installation and do you see an expansion into other mediums in the future?

Primarily I am a painter. What type of painter who knows. Some would say abstraction but the word abstract means to change something realistic and to present it in a new format, showing different characteristics of the original e.g. Cubism. I think my work is not abstract (but I use this term as an historical reference) but is about reality, my reality. The reality of how I see the world, experience colour, think about imagined, constructed and felt space and how borders and boundaries are present within all facets of our lives. However in saying that history would say to me that you are delusional because the work is abstract and that it is. But I would disagree because nothing is ever made of one thing. Everything is made of various parts that when separate they could be considered abstract but when they are placed together create a form of realness or reality e.g. think of a jigsaw puzzle where the abstract parts come together to create an image or a constructed reality. I think that is what my work is about. But in saying that I have done a variety of different works especially in the last 4 - 5 years. Photography, wall paintings, installations, text work, film, artist books, sculptures, works on paper. All these areas of work have been created with the same intentions in mind, they just give you through their materiality a different sensibility or perspective for looking not just at the work, but my entire artistic output in general. However if someone said to me what do you classify your work as using only one word, I would say PAINTING.

3. When you think about making new work do you always consider applying a degree of historical content or do the works weigh more heavily towards a more personal investigation?

I would say more of a personal investigation. I think most if not all work has this present within it. Obviously the work touches on various histories that have occurred within art and culture. However for myself I am always looking to find the gap that has occurred between things and to then expand upon that in a personal way. For example Modernism in art was about art movements and about creating art that pedagogically was created based on the rules or guidelines of the group each individual artist was engaged with. Then Post Modernism came along and used Modernism as a way of essentially terrorizing all that had been produced previously. Post Modernism wanted to take the space away from in between art movements and to appropriate parts as a way of critiquing, copying, using and abandoning various elements within the Modernist idiom. For myself I find this kind of approach negative and insensitive. For myself the late 1960s and 70s is a period that I am still most interested in (however I have a constantly evolving set of interests), where the need to either critique art history was abandoned for a more heightened discourse involving art, design, architecture, society, culture and politics. It is here that I think the gap still exists where a personalized philosophy can exist, create and question the various inhabited and constructed spaces we have created as humanity in a positive not negative way. To truly see you really need to forget how you’ve been taught to see and to instead starting looking beyond the obvious.

4. Your series of Urban Geometry are numbered up to almost four hundred now. When you look back through this body of work do you see any answers unfolding within this investigation?

I think ever artwork I make is a failure. A failure because no one artwork can ever say everything I want to say, that’s why I make another one. In saying that though when you make artworks they have an immediacy at the time they are created that makes it hard to see them for what they truly are. Looking back over time and seeing the work I have done makes me think about the possibilities within the work and this can lead to new experiments or artwork in the studio. In saying that I am always working on several different series of works at the same time, as different galleries want different work, but also I work in this way so that when I finish working on one work and then look at a different type of work it allows me to view it with fresh eyes so that I can see what is or isn’t working in the piece. It also allows me to be more objective rather than subjective when creating whatever it is I am making at that particular moment.

5. On being an educator and teacher within the field of your practice, do you see this as an opportunity to further understand your own investigation?

I am not sure if being an educator or teacher means anything to my practice. I think time is a valuable material in an artists work, as it is one of the most important materials that I feel we forget about or neglect. I think time comes in many configurations: The time to look at a work and really see what it is your looking at. I think the time after you have made an artwork or an exhibition which allows you to reflect on the possibilities that may be there in the work, the time to not make any work and to read and wander around and experience the world as well as time sitting in your studio just looking at all the information you have collected or unfinished work that sits around inside that space, the time it takes from the moment you are first asked to exhibit your work to the time it takes to think about what to make and then the time it takes to make the work and then to install it in the gallery. I think all this form of time as well as a lot more other issues are important factors within any artwork or art practice. These are the opportunities that mean the most to me. As for teaching I think that has to do with setting or building a platform to assist people in achieving whatever they wish to achieve within their own artwork.

METRO ARTS CATALOGUE ESSAY - 2007

Concrete X-ray

‘We speak of concrete and not abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than a line, a colour, a surface’
Theo van Doesburg

Does anyone really know, other than those who have been there?’
Kyle Jenkins, Monochrome Cowboy 2 (2007)

The ‘Urban Geometry’ of our modern cities navigates a spatial intersection of angular geometric planes that cut endlessly across and through the cityscape. Splicing apart the visual composition and perspective of one’s vision, the city rises to become a multi-faceted chaotic body in constant flux. The Futurists captured the dynamism and energy transcendent over the modern industrial city in the early 20th century, deconstructing the urban field of vision to express the speed, movement, and vitality of a new machine age.

Nearly a century later, we are still confronted by the overwhelming visual experience of the modern city, a clash of colour, movement and activity. The instantaneity promised of our digital age is still somewhat dislocated from the concrete, glass and steel reality that rises up from our cities. Space has become a commodity, and the city a constant flux of investigation and experimentation.

Urban Geometries, the title of the new series of works by Kyle Jenkins, presents an abstract reading of the urban, tracing architectonic structural forms from within compressed layers of urban strata, and translating them into flatness and colour. Using a process of reductive aesthetics (subtracting elements from within a chosen frame), the observation and documentation of the city becomes the base for mapping and transforming the representational to the non-objective. Jenkins’ compositions reveal a hidden dynamic geometry embedded within the structure of the city, lines; diagonal, horizontal and vertical explode like subterranean pathways networking across a boogie-woogie canvas.

In his continuing series of ‘Dumpster Drawings’ (1999-2006), English-USA artist John Beech utilises pre-existing forms from within the urban environment as the template to creating colourful abstract shapes. Adding solid blocks of colour over and outlining various dumpsters in large scale black and white photos, Beech experiments with flattening the representational object, emptying the dumpster of its inherent usage and content, and thus the abstract shape thus becomes released.

Urban Geometries play’s with and extends, Beech’s concept to an extreme by reducing the whole visual field of the urban environment to pure flatness and colour. The dynamism of the city becomes entrapped within the flatland of the monochromatic. Just as the discovery of the x-ray in 1895 enabled scientists to explore the underlying architectural structures of solids, Jenkins’ series of works explore the architectonic strata of the city and the multiplicities present within the urban environment.

Jenkins’ art practice fragments between ongoing series of conceptually based abstract painting, UNTITLED (BLUEPRINT) series (featuring horizontal striped loops of white and one colour), I.E.B (construction) series (geometric shaped wall drawings), MONOCUTS (deconstructed canvases), the epic MONOCHROME COWBOY (film project) and now the Urban Geometry series. The new series of works exhibited at Metro Arts, Brisbane, features a multiplicity of canvas painting, drawings on paper, photographs, book constructions and cardboard/wood table constructions.

These new works present a continued exploration and experimentation into forms of spatial reconfiguration. Driven by a renewed investigation into flatness, Jenkins abstract compositions unravel a cartographic illusion of space. Broken down into simple formal elements of line and shape, angles, squares, triangles and rectangles all become tiny elements that form a larger crystallized whole. Much like the geometric rock formations found in nature patterns begin to emerge within the overall structure, as channels of an expanding grid system cut the surface into separate blocks of colour.

Jenkins abstract art practice sits comfortably alongside fellow Australian artists such as Stephen Bram and Justin Andrews. While Bram's practice is grounded solely within an investigation of perspective, Jenkins angular geometric paintings primarily seek to draw attention to flatness. There is a much closer convergence between the work of Andrews, whose practice is engaged with the construction of abstraction via the properties of spatial mapping, and in particular mapping the urban. This convergence manifests itself in the collaborative project Colour and Form, where Jenkins and Andrews work together in the construction and presentation of site-specific architectonic spatial interventions. However as well as this mapping the urban terrain, Jenkins is also interested in the dialogue and relationship that formal and informal elements have to one another and the ways in which many varied outcomes can be produced from this methodology of activity.

Urban Geometry is a bold and confident statement. It deposits an investigation and reading of the urban as holding inherent abstract structures embedded within the foundation of individual perception. Re-articulated through abstract painting, drawing, photography and sculpture, Jenkins re-defines a visual relationship with the city on purely formal terms, an experience that reduces urban chaos to the simplicity of flattened geometric planes.

The overall aim of Jenkins entire body of work (and in particular Urban Geometries) is to deconstruct and reconstruct various relationships between conceptualised and physical interpretations of space and the way in which we as humans confine, expand and grid these ever evolving spaces of activity. This form of representation is used as a conceptual framework that demonstrates varying personalised perspectives on how we view our urban spaces and their geometric constructs, as well as engaging with a historical notion of geometric abstraction within traditional modes of visual art theory.

Danny Lacy is an independent curator, artist and writer based in Melbourne. 2007

CATALOGUE ESSAY - Uros Cvoro

Organic Abstract Forms

If art already contains the contradictions of culture, then the contradictions in Kyle Jenkins’ architectural blobs celebrate its predicament. The increased critical scrutiny of traditional architectural spaces of recent decades together with a recent resurgence of monochromatic abstraction have put the whole playing field under the categories of Jenkins’ work, and the categories of these blobs are altogether those of a precarious situation. The material used by Jenkins is the ‘obsolete’ material of Western art: the organic, the monochrome, the architectural. The subject of the work is the overlap and tensions between the material and space, and their relation to representation.

The sense of spatiality implicit in the blobs allows for an experience of movement through the gallery that makes it possible for another space of representing to unfold. The tensions produced are never resolved or reconciled but rather refer to an illumination of the initial dilemma, now inverted, and stated more uncompromisingly than ever. Jenkins’ work reveals that the tensions between the different levels of space are always already entailed within the spatial practice and spatial representation. This tension is internal and central to the gallery itself – as a medium and as an institution – yet it is a tension that leads to a production of a ‘third space’ that is already predicated by the other two, or else is revealed and highlighted by the experiencing body of the contemporary museum visitor.

The blobs unleash their assault by refusing to resolve the opposition between the architectural layout and the combinatorial approach to its spatial elements. The way in which Jenkins plays on notions of architectural space can be located in its location in the gallery space, in the way it juxtaposes architectural with painterly and the way in which it is generated by conceptual framework that refuses finality or closed meaning.

The individual aspects of the work are meaningful only in the sense in which they relate to the overall premise of the space, reflected in the form that meanders across the walls to the ceiling. Looking at these forms as parts of the gallery as a whole, they add up to a space of shifting and contradictory messages that do not give-in to an easy representation or reading of the space. However, this very multiplicity and complexity of meanings, scale and spatiality in the blobs raises the question of communication between the gallery and the public; whether the audience should know (or care) about its architectural representational aesthetics? After all, the gallery is a public space, intended to educate, enlighten and entertain. The spatial composition by Jenkins should – despite its overbearing presence – be only seen as complimentary to the rest of the collection in highlighting the lack of a central conception of a unitary cultural symbolism. That Jenkins presents the work in an intentionally indeterminate and ambiguous way seems only appropriate in that these blobs reflect and re-enact the tensions that have shaped not only the history of the gallery but the recent history of art in general.

Uros Cvoro, 2008