12 November 2018 - 31 January 2019
This exhibition sees an expansion and complication of the artist’s (psycho-)analytic approach to painting that asks questions about how we look at, or through, surfaces. Page’s canvases and wall-paintings draw on a long history of painting - from ancient Roman frescoes to 20th century Minimalism - in order to think through our contemporary visual paradigm that is dominated by screens.
The title of the exhibition makes reference to the 1972 book, A Theory of /Cloud/, by the late art historian Hubert Damisch in which he shows the peculiar place that /cloud/ (the slashes distinguishing the representation of “clouds” from the actual meteorological phenomena) occupies in the Euclidian matrix of Renaissance and Baroque painting. The amorphous form of /clouds/ are not describable in the strict terms of linear perspective, and so can be seen in many paintings to hover at the threshold between earthly architectural space and the heavens that are beyond perspectival rendering. /Clouds/ thus mark the limit of the geometric axioms that come to underpin Western painting from the Renaissance through Modernism and beyond. After all, the Modernist conception of the surface of the canvas as a flat grid is but a Gods-eye view of the chequerboard floor that grounds Renaissance and Baroque painting.
Christopher Page reintroduces /cloud/ as the threshold of a new pictorial space that collapses Renaissance depth and Modernist flatness - like a screensaver, Page’s /cloud/ is both infinitely far and claustrophobically near. As well as drawing conceptually on different moments in painting’s history, the works in this exhibition employ historic and contemporary painting techniques - glazed oils alongside airbrushed acrylic. These works are not, however, simply an archeology of painting but a meditation on our own troubling visual moment. Both Renaissance and Modernist painting heralded new kinds of visual clarity that hoped to bring with them new epistemological certainty. The space conjured by computer screens draws from these visual languages, and is the face of today’s seemingly rational order, but on closer analysis those transparent and user-friendly interfaces are contradictory, opaque and vertiginous. Page’s work makes reference to all of these confident aesthetics at once only to throw their claims of a rational order into doubt.