- Nicholas May born 1962
- Silicone rubber and metallic powder on canvas
- Support: 2490 x 3708 x 50 mm
- Purchased 1995
Technique and condition
The painting was executed on a single piece of medium-weight cotton canvas, which was stretched around a nine-membered fixed softwood strainer and attached with wire staples at the rear. Prior to stretching, a sheet of one inch thick polystyrene was inserted between the canvas and stretcher, which provides an effective light weight solid support for the painting. The canvas does not appear to have been prepared in any way.
The main component of the 'painting' is a black silicone rubber material, which is a two-component, tin-catalysed RTV silicone rubber (information provided by the artist). The silicone rubber is totally opaque and of even gloss. The first coat appears to have been a thin and even coating over the stretched face of the canvas. Once this had dried, the upper (and visible) layer of silicone rubber was applied with a knife or trowel in a single application, probably with the canvas horizontal (occasional drips of rubber are seen around all edges). The silicone rubber was then heavily textured with all parts of the application implement to produce a variety of thickness, including areas where it was reduced right back to the canvas texture and areas where the rubber was 'slashed' with the sharp edge of the knife or trowel. A stick may also have been used for this and a heated implement was probably used to create the pitted areas. Two colours of metallic powder (gold and bronze) were then sprinkled onto the rubber, much of it with the painting in a vertical position (the powder is mainly seen on the upper sides of any impasto). The application of powder seems to have occurred both before and after the slashing of the rubber. The green effect seen in many areas is thought to be the result of a thin layer of powder, possibly applied as a thin dispersion in water, which has mixed slightly into the black silicone rubber.
The painting is currently in excellent condition with the silicone rubber exhibiting excellent flexibility and adhesion to the canvas. The main conservation concern is with the adhesion of the metallic powder to the rubber, which is extremely vulnerable to abrasion, handling, brushing etc. However, providing the appropriate level of care is taken during transit, storage and display, it is thought that the amount of such powder loss can be kept to a absolute minimum. For this reason it is essential that the work is displayed behind a barrier and kept away from draughts.