Alexander Kennedy speaks to JR Ewen at the South Side Studios about his upcoming show with Olivia Gurtler
AK Can you tell me about the work you’ll be exhibiting?
JRE My work will include a small video piece and fabric compositions based on women’s costume. Bodices, boned supports for gowns, modern BDSM clothing lend a structure for the designs. The compositions are made with MDF frames much like canvas stretchers, to build geometric shapes.
AK Your work also seems to fluctuate between sculpture and painting. Is this a continuation of Minimalist examination of the canvas/painting as object?
JRE The joining of two canvas stretchers and the form and beauty of that join was indeed a minimalist choice. The idea of multiple canvases, joined and painted, has been explored by many an artist. My focus has been on how the fabric can stretch into curves turning the canvas/painting object into a discipline in itself.
AK You also seem to keep colour to a minimum. Why is this?
JRE Colour is still a struggle which is why the fabric itself is dyed or has its own colour. Painted surfaces tend to kill the soft qualities of fabric. Some early work had painted frames in which the colour could be seen through the canvas. Light would bounce around inside the frame creating gradients of subtle colour on the surface of the canvas. Was this then a painting? Or just an ambiguous form still trading on the veil of beauty.
AK The ‘paintings’ seem to be more about the frame than the canvas itself – is this the case?
JRE The canvas is contorted and bound by the frame, however the frame only exists as a vessel to mount the surface of parabolic curves. So there is a power struggle. They must both come together, for in their natural state both frame and canvas are barren. They’ve got to have sex.
Gurtler & Ewen, SouthSide Studios A few lucid moments, Aug 25–2 Sep. For more information see southsidestudios.org