The complex artistic process of Simon Callery (UK, 1960) examines the limits of painting and explores its physical and environmental qualities. By reconsidering the relationship between the work of art and the space, his monochromatic creations probe the plastic possibilities of the pictorial surface. Apparently simple, his sculpture-paintings are the result of a long creative process that is divided into several steps, within which every single aspect – both technical and aesthetic – is studied in meticulous detail. Callery’s canvases are not paintings in the classical sense of the word, but present different idiosyncrasies that come to the fore from the early stages of the creative process that lie at their foundation. The artist begins by painting large pieces of canvas, soaking them in rabbit-skin glue and pure pigment. These canvases are then placed in direct contact with different physical elements around the city, such as – in the case of the works created in Rome and presented by 1/9unosunove in 2019 – archaeological ruins, suburban parks and the waters of the Tiber River.
This “contact” is recorded as marks and punctures in the canvases, which the artist proceeds to bring back to his studio, where he cuts and stitches them together to give them their final form that, while not doing away with the pictorial effect, seeks to construct paintings with spatial depth. These wallspine paintings and contact paintings, as Callery calls them, derive from the urban landscape and attest to the specific conditions each time, not through any conventional representation, but in direct physical terms. For the artist, this exploration of the physical qualities of painting is a way to reflect and mirror the material experience of the landscape and surrounding space. This is a need that can also be felt in the way in which his paintings are installed leaving unconventional elements purposefully on display, such as empty spaces, wooden inserts, hanging wires and layers of canvas