Gillian Wise

Looped Network Suspended in Pictorial Space


Not on display

Gillian Wise 1936 – 2020
Acrylic paint on plastic
Support: 1626 × 1219 × 23 mm
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1975

Display caption

Prior to making this painting, Wise had been working on relief constructions in three dimensions. Invited to participate in an exhibition of British painting, she was told that the work she submitted ‘must be totally flat’. She created a work that uses colour and line to explore the possibilities of what she called ‘pictorial space’. Here she uses the contrast between red and blue to establish different positions in space.

Gallery label, May 2019

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Catalogue entry


Not inscribed
Acrylic paint on PVC sheet, 64×48 (162.5×122)
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1975
Exh: British Painting '74, Hayward Gallery, September–November 1974 (197, repr.)

The artist has described the genesis of this work over several years and its connection with her relief constructions as follows (letter to the compiler of 1 February 1976).

'After showing (18 relief constructions) at the Axiom Gallery in September 1967, later that year I began an extensive series of models using regular grid forms traced by a line on parallel, transparent planes. Usually the path was traced by one thread which met itself eventually, forming a loop, hence “Looped Network”. (An alternative title for this series is “Unicursal Curve”).

‘The painting derives from one particular model in the series, shown in 1969 at the Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Biennal, Antwerp. I also made concurrently a drawing, (one of several versions) which was subsequently sold. When I was invited to take part in “British Painting '74” ... it was made clear ...that the works must be totally flat ... Given this condition I decided to use an enlargement of the “Looped Network” drawing with another colour resolution; in fact to treat it as an enlarged drawing rather than as a painting as such, the difference being that I wanted to embed it in pictorial space rather than the neutral one of drawings. A classical one that had been interesting me for other reasons was a vertical rectangle (in this case a 3:4 ratio) 64×48, centralised image 32×32 surrounded by equi-distant white “space” but held on the picture plane top and bottom by a line of light-toned squares which slightly counter-balance the diagonal emphasis of the network.’

The red/blue contrast in the network is one of the artist's preferred colour combinations, although she tends to prefer neutral schemes. She uses colour mostly diagrammatically-in this case as a means of establishing different positions in space.

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


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