Terry Winters: Studio Visit

Winters tells us how scientific patterns provide the starting point for his explorations in paint

TateShots visited the Matthew Marks gallery to see Terry Winters' exhibition, Knotted Graphs. The energetic, brightly coloured paintings on show at the gallery are in contrast with the quiet resonances and 'economical' mark-making that can be seen in work at his Manhattan studio.

Art, science and philosophy are three ways we find out about the world, and I think that given the mediated nature of the way things are these days, I’m just interested in using science as a factual beginning for making a painting, in the same way that a landscape painter might use a landscape as a factual beginning. Well, there is a group of seven pictures that I felt were a group, and I was committed to the idea of showing them together, and in one way or another all the pictures in that exhibition feed off the same family of forms or subject that I’d been grappling with for the last few years. I try to approach all of them without any idea about hierarchy; that each one has a capacity to develop or reveal another aspect about the symmetry that I’m curious about. We are bombarded with so much imagery that’s disconnected from sort of bodily form, and that I think painting has a capacity to deal with information and give it another kind of physical presence. There’s some arc or trajectory that’s being described from earlier works, so one tries to position it in terms of what’s going on at the moment, and it’s always interesting to catch, to see the work in different situations. So obviously on one level it’s gratifying to see them in a public institution, because that’s how I grew up learning about work, and seeing them in museums. So I’ve just been going through older groups of drawings that I’ve had here. These are two images that resonate for me in terms of what’s happening in the paintings right now upstate, even though they were made two years ago. This is another small project I’ve been working on here. I’ve been sort of very interested in the idea of the economical, most economical means of just making these marks with pencils, and I think I’m dealing with a kind of abstract vocabulary of forms that I hope generate new kinds of pictures; so I think that each medium has the capacity to open up a different kind of aperture into what I’m looking at; to inhabit another kind of life inside of the painted picture.

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