Legal Tagging and the Body Signature

Brushstroke, Experimentation, Gesture, Installation, Site Specific, Wall

Recently, I discovered a local ‘Urban Art Supplier’, a phrase I had never actually contemplated.  How very closed minded of me.  Yet, it is true.  The establishment, with a secure entrance (they have to buzz you in), feels like a dungeon, but of the delightful kind if it’s possible.  Every wall is floor to ceiling colours of spray paint, in brands I have largely never seen before, and colours of many different shades.  It’s not just pink – oh no – it’s baby pink, light pink, dark pink, fluoro pink, pearlescent pink, metallic pink, plus those options in every other colour too.  I do love that about art stores in general.

In addition, there were paint pens/textas in many colours and thicknesses.  Some really thick, diabolically thick actually, ink pens.  I had often seen tagging around and wondered what they’d used.  I then discovered a new tool.  A mop.

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This is a mop.  This one is a little worse for wear, as I ruined the nib on the rough wall.  It should be flat on top.  This is a refillable one, which you can use ink or diluted paint in, and the nib is flat and is ‘pumped’ and the paint or ink comes out when you put pressure on it; similar to those quick shoe polish liquid things.  Since making this discovery, I have been investigating pure gesture more.  Being exposed to more of graffiti’s materials has me thinking more and more about graffiti and the connections with my work.  Some of those connections have to do with contexts that can give different readings to the work, as I mentioned in my post about Linked Internal Space II, which is situated on a brick wall and on asphalt in a streetscape.  However, the way I have been using gesture has been almost in a tagging kind of way.  That my gestural and ‘filled in’ marks are like a big signature of my body which I impose onto a space and this is not dissimilar to the marking of territory that goes on when taggers leave sign.  Yet my work is not hand writing, it’s more body writing.

There are a number of motivational similarities between the street tagger and me.  We both want to leave a mark on a space and for it to be distinctly our mark.  We both maintain a kind of rebellion against institutionalised spaces.  For the tagger: a slightly anarchist bent, or perhaps the revolt of the disaffected youth.  For my practice, I want to see artwork invade spaces other than the art institution and white cube of galleries (although, I love those opportunities too), and painting to be contextualised in spaces other than the rectangular painting.

Getting back to the mop.  I have been having a good scribble on my studio walls.  They have a lovely scale to them and paint beautifully on paper, but they are of a size that makes paper somewhat redundant for practicing on.

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I have been using diluted house paint in the mop, and getting a slightly transparent result with a dry brush effect at the edges.  Here are a few images of my scribbles.  I think there is a lot of merit in using these new gestures and rounded shapes and filling them in.  You can see I have started to fill them in in places.  There is much more to be explored there.

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