Catalogue entry

T01982 TWO RESIN PANELS WITH BLACK (AND SPACE) 1968–75

Not inscribed
Two glass fibre reinforced plastic laminated panels, each 108×36 (274.4×91.4) to be attached to a wall with space of 12 inches (30.5) between, overall dimensions 108×84 (274.4×213.3)
Purchased from the artist (Grand-in-Aid) 1975

The following entry has been approved by Justin Knowles and is based on a written statement by him and discussions with the compiler on 13 and 14 November 1975.

Resin with Black, and Space’ 1968 (the first version of T.1982) was exhibited on three occasions: Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (December 1970); Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (January 1971); Park Square Gallery, Leeds (March 1971). (No published catalogue of work shown).

'Together with around 100 other two- and three-dimensional works of 1964 to 1973, the original version of this work was destroyed in the 1973 total fire destruction of my Devon studio (Old Baptist Chapel, Chudleigh). The 1975 remake differs technically from the original: the black pigment area is incorporated with the resin; the original version was made by spray painting black enamel onto the resin surfaces. The backs of both panels of the remake were coated with a white pigmented plastic to increase the opacity of the natural resin area.

‘In relation to the overall development of my work, the original piece was one of a group reflecting a transition from my mid- 1960's two- and three-dimensional paintings on canvas towards the symmetrical and systematic works from about 1970 formed by using standardized resin panels’.

Knowles used sprayed enamel originally as he wanted ‘to further concentrate the clarity of expression, evidence of handling produced a deviation from intensity of the fundamental statement’. Before using enamel on resin panels he had used acrylic paint on linen canvas, often shaped and free-standing canvases described as ‘dimensional paintings’. Knowles sees the use of resin panels as being a logical development, in relation to technology, from the use of wood and metal panels or stretched canvas. He had consistently used raw canvas on wood and fibreglass as visual components of paintings, and it seemed logical to do the same with natural resin. His work of 1975 involved the use of a form of machine-extruded resin as used in industry.

Some three dimensional works of 1966/67 shown in exhibitions in 1967 at the Galleria Cadario in Milan and Plymouth City Art Gallery had areas of unpainted linen canvas between painted areas. Also other works conceived c.1966–67 and realized later in steel (1969, Stirling University; 1970, Southampton University) or concrete (1969/70, coll. the artist, exhibited Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, December 1970) had areas of painted and unpainted material. The works in concrete in the Oxford exhibition were assembled from standardized production units, such as manhole covers. The resin panels forming the two-dimensional works in the Oxford exhibition were also standardized to 9×3 ft. dimensions.

In Knowles's view T01982 'reflects my development towards greater rationalisation in terms of restriction of colour to black, symmetry and greater activation of space within the work. It is probably one of the last two-dimensional pieces to be complete in itself. [Knowles's recent works have each consisted of several identical components]. It is very much a transitional work.

'The change from canvas to resin was functional, reflecting a continual rationalisation of procedure to enable a logical realisation from definition (drawings and/or models) of concept. Certainly my direct involvement in technical process of manufacture is consciously remote in order to maintain flexibility towards realisation in terms of scale and material. I make no assumption of materials, process, dimension or situation but my definition of concept is absolute. However, its realisation can be flexible in relation to functional factors.

‘My work forms an expression of resolvement from an integrated and distilled rationalisation of various visual and emotive elements. Perhaps my work generates a feeling of visual intensity, energy and overall emotiveness from a resolved statement.’

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1974-6: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1978