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A Crimp in the Fabric: Situating Painting Today

A Crimp in the Fabric: Situating Painting Today, which includes a keynote lecture and day-long symposium, presents a range of perspectives reflecting on the current state of contemporary painting practices. A Crimp in the Fabric: Situating Painting Today is co-organized by the University of British Columbia, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Simon Fraser University and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

This symposium is an opportunity for artists, writers, curators, students, educators and thinkers to come together, and question the relevance and importance of painting today. It will be an opportunity to listen to and discuss issues arising from various and diverse artistic positions represented by panelists, in the context of the many concurrent painting exhibitions occurring throughout Vancouver.

Keynote Lecture
Isabelle Graw: The Value of Painting
When: Thursday, September 28, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Reliance Theatre, Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Painting is usually associated with various aesthetic, emotional, symbolic and economic values. In this talk, “Painting” refers to all those (often non-painterly) artistic practices that employ the picture on canvas in manifold ways. Graw will examine the commodity value of painting, considering paintings as unique material objects that nourish a fantasy that their value is substantial and contained within them—valuable because of their specific materiality, and because of the sphere of reception painting exists within.

Graw will argue that despite their materiality, paintings can’t be reduced to their economic dimension; although the luxury industry in particular has tried to learn from painting in recent years, painting’s intellectual prestige has been growing since the early modern times, adding to their status as ideal commodities.

Isabelle Graw is a professor of art theory and art history at the Staatliche Hochschule für bildende Künste (Städelschule) Frankfurt am Main, where she co-founded the Institute of Art Criticism. She is an art critic and co-founder of Texte zur Kunst in Berlin. She has edited and contributed to many important books on the medium of painting, most notably Painting Beyond Itself: The Medium in the Post-Medium Condition (Sternberg Press, 2016) and Thinking through Painting. Reflexivity and Agency beyond the Canvas (Sternberg Press, 2012). Her forthcoming book The Love of Painting: Genealogy of a Success Medium aims to establish where painting can be seen today and to reconstruct the historical origins of its current popularity.

Isabelle Graw is a guest of the Goethe Institute. Her talk is made possible with support from the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.

Symposium: A Crimp in the Fabric: Situating Painting Today
When: Friday, September 29, 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Where: Simon Fraser University, Djavad Mowafaghian World Arts Centre

On Friday, September 29, a day-long symposium with four moderated panel sessions comprised of Canadian and international artists and scholars will be held at the World Arts Centre, Simon Fraser University. Each of the panels will focus on a theme pertinent to issues in contemporary painting. The discussions will cover a range of topics, such as questions of aesthetics and the agency of materials; the economic conditions of painting (and its history); the role of the artist’s studio as a site of intellectual and material production; and the ways in which the practice of painting resists easy translation into words.

Panel 1 – 9:30 am - Diviners, Materialists, and Creatives
Sean Alward, Derek Dunlop, and Athena Papadopoulos in conversation with Carolyn Stockbridge

This panel will focus on the painter, the painting, and paint as agents, with a particular emphasis on materials and process being the foundation for ideas and affective qualities within an artwork. The geological foundations of paint, how paint can embody political histories, how paint becomes transmogrified through incorporation of the commodity fetish—these approaches seek to resist the market-driven relations that permeate art. “Diviners” relates to the process of channeling energies. It refers to people who can divine for water or minerals, and discover things by intuition. Tapping into the mineral intelligence of paint can also be understood to resist the primacy of ratiocentrism and language in our culture. “Creative” is used ironically, to deal with the tendency in corporate culture to hold up creative people as something to tap into monetarily, to brand their processes and production, based on their ability to distribute cultural cachet.

Panel 2 – 11:20 am - Making a Difference: The Effective Capacity of Painting
Christine Major, Francine Savard and Charlene Vickers. Nicole Ondre moderator/respondent.

Considers the question of painting as a matter of, not just its materiality, but also of how it exceeds its thingness to create significance within the contexts it is placed. The artist cannot be “merely” a painter, but is part of an interrelated chain of efficaciousness. What considerations confront the painter beyond the demands of the surface?

Panel 3 – 2:00 pm - In the Studio: Painting as Thinking; Painting as Conversation
Jessica Groome, Sandra Meigs and Jinny Yu in conversation with Alison Shields

In this conversation, painters think out loud about their creative processes and the relationship between thinking and making through studio work. By discussing the process of making in the studio the presenters will reflect on what the now commonly used phrase “thinking through making” means for them. In talking about the process of painting, the artists reflect on their approaches to materials, shifts in practice over time and painting as a means of engaging with personal, social and political ideas.

Panel 4 – 3:40 pm - Like Hands Stuck in a Mattress: The Difficulty of Talking Painting
Marvin Luvuala Antonio, Mark Igloliorte, Adrianne Rubenstein and M.E. Sparks in conversation with Elizabeth Mcintosh and Ben Reeves

Asks the questions: How to talk about painting? How not to talk about painting? And given that painting is the most important thing that painters do, (why) should painters talk about painting anyway?

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Contact: cheyanne turions,






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