press release

“…I began The Nothing Self Portraits by going back to my archive of study drawings of the 1980s. Repetition was the starting point but almost immediately I began subsuming this material in a peculiar way, because my strongest impulse was to over draw the copy, not to obliterate it but to take the process of drawing beyond what was required. I often found myself drawing beyond the point where “the likeness of the likeness” had been established, and it was out of this “excess” that individual drawings and the series as a whole emerged.

I kept thinking two contradictory thoughts. Firstly, that the last twenty years of printmaking had been put aside, broken off into parentheses and then, that the return to the 1980’s study drawings meant that I was treating these original images like prints.

Many of The Nothing Self Portraits also utilize the division between self portrait and response that I adopted in the 1980s but now the response is often a current self portrait, and the style of drawing is radically loose in comparison with the “photo-realism” of the 1980’s.

I had to find something acerbic in this encounter. I can’t really describe it in words, but the strength of the contrast actually unifies the drawing as a work. This contrapuntal form also extends to the colour, which is often a “colourfield” in contrast to the figuration. In a similar way, constructed spatial zones blatantly contradict blank expanses of paper on which drawings sit superficially.

Blatant is a suggestive word, because I want the viewer to see that I am both conducting an orchestration while simultaneously playing a part, and this process of deeply qualifying the figurative construction means that the Theatre of Self Correction, 1979 comes to the surface as a process of endistancing…”

Mike Parr
Salto Mortale: The Nothing Self Potraits