Indices in Ultramarine is a series of monochromatic paintings and documentary photographs that explore the complicated relationship between artworks and their environments and challenge ideas of 20th c. artist Yves Klein. Klein stated that his artworks “impregnate space” and possess their own unique immaterial qualities; justifying why each of his paintings sold at different prices. By way of contrast, my paintings argue the opposite: that artworks are more significantly influenced by their environment. To test this idea, I established a method or process to investigate what factors an environment has on an artwork and how these may influence art’s reception and meaning.
First, I paint each panel with ultramarine oil paint, a direct reference to Klein’s patented “International Klein Blue”. While the panels are still wet, I take each to its predetermined, unique location. I take photographs of the panel displayed within its environments and then lay it face down onto the earth or other surface, creating unpredictable final designs. Finally I photograph the ground in which a printed design is also left from the wet paint. For this exhibition, I present all three forms: the painted panel, the photograph of the panel in the environment, and the marks left on the environment by the paint.
By releasing control over the final designs of each painting, they serve as visual evidence of both the effect of an environment on an artwork and the unpredictability of an artwork’s reception depending on such an environment. The location of each painting also serves to represent larger institutions and conventions that indeed change the way artworks are interpreted. For example, an artwork seen in a roadside motel may be interpreted differently than the same piece seen in a gallery setting. From the rural, domestic, metropolitan, or institutional mindsets of all who interact with art, it is important to understand the ways in which these factors can influence an artwork’s reception. What can be considered “fine art” may often have to do with the qualities of the place that surrounded it at its creation.