Didn’t I tell you, I think I did

Clare Goodwin’s painting practice has undergone a typically minimal but, in material terms, quite radical evolution in recent years. Her irreverent gaggle of Modern motifs appear to have travelled some distance, in scale and referential mileage, from their historical and studio origins: onto walls, objects and, most recently, into the fire. Many of the works that make up DIDN’T I TELL YOU, I THINK I DID at Lullin + Ferrari have been baked at very high temperatures in a kiln.Goodwin’s Whispers – small-scale, flat and glazed clay shapes that reference details of her compositions – have been quietly evident in other projects, but this is the first of her solo presentations where the ceramic works take centre stage. Holding the room, the wall of tarry-black Whispers hung in curtain formation brings to mind a wealth of potential sources, disciplines and sensory triggers. Low-in-profile but not flat, they embody some of the messy printed characteristics of the page – imagine the creation of a new sculptural font – while the combination of fragile surface and a once-sticky, now protective coating creates a toffee moment in the mouth. As a gang they behave neither uniformly within the grid, nor appear out of step with the narrative parameters it sets. Like a designer autopsy of Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, 1991, each slightly different form connects us with both the auspicious and everyday histories of collecting; the significance of things to people for very different reasons.
Goodwin takes a playful custodial approach to the job of working with iconic forms and motifs. In her bold, but precise, juggle of visual-art references – from Malevich to Mary Heilman via Charles and Ray Eames – she acknowledges that anyone working in the field of abstract painting is only ever a temporary Pied Piper in the process of its development. But, also, the concertina effect of these art and design sensibilities through popular cultural, over time; how much of their influence is (if not always consciously) felt and experienced through the everyday encounter, not just in the church of high art.
During the studio time-travel between sources, Goodwin consistently returns to the tested formal strategies of the Constructivists and Concrete artists to inform her graphic painterly language; sources able to withstand the rigours of material translation and hold their own in any aesthetic arena. Known principally for her works on canvas, Goodwin has ventured into many other making and presentational territories, exploring the associatively rich ‘conversations’ that might be had between the canvas and other objects, from a variety of spatial perspectives. Sottovoce, her current major wall painting commission at Haus der Kunst St. Josef, Solothurn, also refers to subtle forms of communication; the geometric dance of elements, surface to surface, speaking in hushed tones of moments of connection.

© Text by Rebecca Geldard, Photos by Corrado Ferrari (Lullin + Ferrari), Sandi Paucic