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IN FOCUS: ANDREW BICK

July 2, 2020

Andrew Bick (b. Gloucestershire, UK, 1963) received an MA in painting from the Chelsea School of Art (1988) and has since shown extensively in Europe and the U.S. Bick lives and works in London, UK.

Andrew Bick’s works consist of endless permutations – at the core of the artist’s practice is a grid system, one he reproduces time and time again. In 2008, Bick copied a grid structure from one of his own artworks, digitised it, and has since used this same grid as a starting point for every painting. In Bick’s view, new versions of the abstract, concrete and constructive, necessitate the repetition of banal information, leading to an unexpected conjuncture of word and image. His work is based on the belief that disruption within a system helps us relearn the process of paying attention.

In Bick’s work, mediated layering of geometry and gesture act as an antidote to a world of instantaneous information. It is evident that the paintings are made laboriously, testing how far he can take the medium. An amalgamation of watercolour, oil paint, marker pen and encaustic are used to carefully block off areas, building the surface and composition, contrasting with casual-seeming brushstrokes and open areas of untouched support.

 

Bick’s paintings are spatially complex, drawing the viewer closer to the work to explore what is illusory depth and what has been physically layered in three-dimensional relief. The relationship between each element of the work is restless; his paintings are full of internal argument, revelling in the idea of the grid as a contradictory format. They are simultaneously precise yet unresolved, playful and serious, transparent and opaque. Each work further extends the possible intersections and overlaps, revealing the process of painting by suspending sections in layers of wax encaustic.

 

Bick pays close attention to the formal processes of painting as well as the legacies of constructivism, systems art and concrete poetry. He has developed a cyclical correlation between resources, academic research and approaches for painting. A vast knowledge and appreciation of art history informs the work, alongside longstanding visual and verbal dialogue with figures such as Gillian Wise and Jeffrey Steele. Bick also developed correspondence with concrete poet Robert Lax, collaborating on several publications. Despite historical research being at the forefront of the artist’s practice, he paints very much in the present, highlighting the canonical to subvert the rules. Gently deconstructing what has come before with deft humour, Bick uses systems not to predetermine the outcome, but to conjure new ways of thinking and to develop different results. The works act as a re-evaluation of constructivism and systems art, simultaneously celebratory and disruptive.

 


 

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