26 November to 23 December 2005
In the past 12 months Magnus Quaife has painted a series of watercolours of everyday objects: Polaroid snapshots, tickets, gift vouchers, book covers, adverts, press releases, postcards, rejection letters and scribbled notes. Snippets of self-mythologising and studio detritus hang alongside moments from mass media, throw away imagery and forgotten or fleeting thoughts, exposing a fascination with visual communication. The paintings have elements in common, each work is the same size as the image or object it represents and the paintings have similar dimensions. But the painterly approach varies from painting to painting as if Quaife has decided to treat each image on its own merit. The result is a variety of approaches that reference moments of watercolour history, be that as the medium of fine art, scientific documentation, as field sketch, or the medium elect of the hobby painter.
Alongside is a handful of playful abstract works created around self-imposed rules, each set invented for the creation of an individual work, suggesting a fascination with the idiomatic nature of painting itself. In ‘Graph’, for example, Quaife has created a diagram by painting spots, the position of which represent his preference for the colours in a newly bought set of watercolours and their size how much he feels he will use them. While the figurative paintings imply fragments of narratives that point outside of the work, these abstract works try to contain themselves and their ideas in their entirety. Yet all of Quaife’s paintings are punctuated by a fascination with painting itself: with painting as language; painting as translation; painting as currency; painting as an idea.
It is possible to look at this as a body of work full of contradictions, but the artist insists that this is where we should look for any meaning. Painting offers Quaife a way of understanding the proliferation of images and information that fills everyday life, and the relationship that he has to them.
Magnus Quaife (born 1975) lives and works in Manchester. He studied at Chelsea College of Art and Manchester Metropolitan University.