Lisa Sharp is a Malaysian-born Australian artist, writer, curator and co-gallery manager. Currently based in Sydney, her painting practice sets out to explore ‘painting’ as action, object and historical discourse, all at once. Following an earlier career as a lawyer, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours in Painting from the National Art School, as well as Bachelors of Arts (English) and Laws from the University of Sydney and a Masters in Laws from the University of Technology, Sydney. Lisa likes to write and muse about art, art making and artists. Her blog is http://www.lisa-sharp.tumblr.com/
49 Sighs (solo) Factory 49
The Paddock III: Posted to New York, Aloft Harlem, New York
Annual Group Exhibition, Factory 49
RNPG at The Kiosk, The Kiosk, Katoomba
Ce qui aurait pu ne pas être, Galerie Abstract Project, Paris
Factory 49 at Supermarket Art Fair, Stockholm, Sweden
Support / Surface Movement, Factory 49 Outside Wall Painting
Hype, Creative Space 220
Painting Remnants (solo) Factory 49
Abbotsleigh Alumni Exhibition, Grace Cossington Smith Gallery
Annual Group Exhibition, Factory 49
The Paddock II: virtual fields, Factory 49
Unmake/make / dénouer/nouer (joint) Factory 49 Paris Pop Up
Directors’ Show, Factory 49
Breaking Space, Imperial Hotel Paddington
National Art School Postgraduate Exhibition, National Art School
Honours 2015, Library Stairwell Gallery
Another Day in Paradise, National Art School
The Paddock: Looking back at The Field, Library Stairwell Gallery
To Be Continued (2), Factory 49
Feral, Articulate Project Space (as arts writer)
Stilled Life, Sede Annandale
National Art School Graduate Exhibition, National Art School
My practice explores the ways in which the form of painting, treated reductively, can conflate the material language, concrete processes and art history of painting. ‘Painting’ is action, object and ongoing historical discourse, all at once. A ‘painting’ can mean many things – it’s a verb, a noun, and also a narrative, and this dialogue underpins my approach. In my studio, ‘painting’ constantly slips between action, thing and conversation. In my mind’s eye, and then with my hands, I aim to make work that captures those slippages around the meaning of painting.
I work with the materiality of painting. The trio of support, surface and paint tend always to be addressed in my works, but to varying degrees and with an ongoing interrogation of the role each element plays. The absence, or surrogacy, of any of these elements can be telling. I am fascinated with the qualities of different materials, whether the absorbency of a surface or the origin of a pigment, and exposing the ways in which they function within a painting is quite often the basis for engaging with a work. Prioritising the role of the materials that underlie painting also shifts the emphasis from the pictorial to the structural and from composition to chance. The use of fairly traditional painting materials and practices alongside unconventional ones enables a playful, process-driven examination of painting while situating it within the contemporary visual arts.
In some works, there is an emphasis on surface, whether through the result of repetitive actions of layering successively lean paint strata, in horizontal then vertical bands, as if weaving, or through actually weaving the canvas from string and torn strips.
My most recent series, the ‘paintless paintings’ uses the absence of paint to point to traditional materials, nomenclature, even expectations about painting as potentially expressive sources of meaning. In the absence of paint, the support and surface of the works become magnified, leading to an interest in the textile minutiae constituting a canvas surface, and the significance particularly of used textiles. I have been experimenting with domestically sourced textiles as surrogates for canvas.
One series is based on used muslin teabags and uses an embroidery hoop in place of a stretcher. I found that the absence of paint only stressed the mundane, body-like qualities of the canvasses. The titling ironically references the death of painting as well as bodily ecstasy. The scale, and indeed the surrogate materials are domestic and feminized, offering alternative interpretations and readings of the paintings.
A recent exhibition, 49 Sighs was an installation of 49 paintless paintings. Once more, building upon the material language and rhythms of a painter preparing for painting, these stiffened forms, molds of trapped air (my breath, a sigh) illustrate the unusual qualities of gesso, a traditional primer used to prepare a surface for painting. These interactions and metaphors were made possible between a collision of materials, form, process and body. I was playing with the idea that a painting could be absent of paint yet still be about painting.
What constitutes painting? is a question which continues to feed and direct my practice. What are the material (and socio-political) conditions of its creation, and how do they affect its impact and meaning? Taking the most basic material structure of painting – paint on stretched canvas – as a fixed position from which to invert, interrogate and experiment, I continue to paint, and make paintings that speak to the history of painting.