David Ginton / Conceptual Arcadia
Opening: 17/02/2006 Closing: 24/03/2006
This is the third time I exhibit only one type of images, the backside of a painting. In the first exhibition (Trompe-L’oeil, Yanko Dada Museum, 1996) they were photographs of paintings’ backsides from the Tel Aviv Museum collection. In the second one (The English Painter, Noga Gallery, 2002) they were paintings of the backside of imaginary paintings with texts describing the concealed “painting” on the front. Those texts were usually taken from back covers of books about art or literature, and they described and praised the book (the painting). Therefore, those texts became the embodiment of ekphrasis – verbal descriptions of paintings that at the same time turn into talking paintings.
The current exhibition, Conceptual Arcadia, is about the name of the painting. A painting is born from its name. When there is an appropriate name for a painting, I can paint its backside. Usually it is a name of an existing painting by another painter, like the Wood on its Head (Georg Bacelitz) or The Last Painting of a Century (Kenny Scharf). I painted the backside not of the original painting, but of a virtual copy I made of the original. There is no painting the name refers to, so it is in fact a painting within a painting, or a frame painting as a frame story. Through their names the paintings cover different issues concerning art, politics, or personal matters, and the texts range from minimal informative to literal citations, political “chatter” and theology. At a certain stage I decided to express verbally the ease of creation of those paintings through their names as a conceptual arcadia. This was an opportunity to settle my debt with conceptual art and to relay to my own beginning; it was done in two works. One is I after Ich by the French artist, Ben Vautier, that I saw during my first visit abroad in 1973 when I entered the art world. The French version of the painting was created in 1965. Second is the first backside painting I made after my own painting, my first painting from 1973 that was a text work, Paint on Paint…
My encounter with a painting’s backside was made by coincidence when I visited a storage room in Givon Gallery, but I have pursued it for 12 years since experiencing it as a process of iconoclasm: a painting without an image, except for frame and canvas, mainly writing. The backside of a painting is where artists tend to write their name, the name of the painting, and date. Essentially, it is also the details that appear on labels next to the paintings in museums or in books. What is the backside of a painting? What is a label without the painting? The backside is what we are allowed to see of God, and the painting is like a deity (“You shall not make for yourselves… any image”). When the linguist, Emil Benvenist, described the “desecration of God’s name”, he wrote that “the only thing we have from God is his name”. So it is with the reversed painting – all we have from the painting is its name. The name of the painting is a painting.