Installation view at Tate St Ives, 2008 four

Installation view at Tate St Ives 2008
© Tate

In this room Zobernig’s grid painting deliberately defies the conventions of the museum hang; a nineteenth-century style alcove for the display of sculpture is overlaid with a twenty-first century painting, Untitled 2007.

Zobernig has explored the gambit of twentieth century geometric painting since the mid 1980s. A significant project of modernism, he reconsiders the evolution of ‘the grid’ from early exponents such as Piet Mondrian, whose work Composition with Grid 3, Lozenge Composition 1918 this painting directly paraphrases, to the late 1960s reinterpretations of Anglo-Australian artist Ian Burn and German abstract painter Blinky Palermo.

If we consider the shift of ideologies from early to late modernism moved from the deeply philosophical, in the first half of last century, to purely pictorial in the latter, Zobernig asks what the possibilities for geometric abstraction are today. Which materials can question this and what visual interplay is possible? What is the role of the viewer? Can this standard, seemingly objective device for making pictures be either free of, or recharged with, personal meaning?

The grid resurfaces in various aspects of his work including performance and video, but Zobernig’s standpoint in these paintings is more often than not ironic.