R O B E R T  D U N T

Distortion Form Paintings


How can colour be explored in a contemporary fine art context?  My body of work, and in particular my “dripping distortion form” paintings and 'electricity' paintings, are the result of my examination of this question. I made explorations in a number of different directions as diverse research seemed the only way to explore fine art in a contemporary culture that moves seamlessly from art to television, to music, to film.


This line of inquiry began when I started making musical metaphor paintings about the band The Jesus and Mary Chain.  They wrote pretty three chord Beach Boys like pop songs and then layered them with feedback, white noise and distortion. The paintings I made had colourful hard edged cubist-like retro backgrounds that I first covered with resin and then with loose curved black and white “distortion forms” which stood as the musical metaphor for the white noise and feedback.


I then decided that I should try and “undo” these paintings and work out what was happening in them in the language of painting as opposed to music.  I had noticed that when I put the distortion forms on a painting it gave the work a sort of extra virtual layer. Consequently I began looking at grids and the picture plane which led me on to make works that tried to explore what painting is.  From here my practice expanded in a number of different directions.


This research led me back to making paintings that were similar to the musical metaphor paintings I had made at the beginning of my research but this time in a looser fashion and with more emphasis on colour. I call these my “dripping distortion form” paintings. In an effort to ensure these paintings had a clear distinction to modernist woks, which seem to rely on balance, I would sometimes randomly pour varnish or resin across the front of my paintings and place the distortion forms where the varnish dried thereby allowing an element of chance and chaos into the work.


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