Work in Progress
23 April – 4 May 1980
Work in Progress is a new work by Susan Hiller, showing for twelve days at Matt’s Gallery. Unconventional avant-garde artist, Susan Hiller who last month exhibited at the prestigious, blue-chip Gimpel Fils Gallery in Davies Street, is having a very different kind of exhibition at Matt’s Gallery, a newly converted East London studio warehouse. Hiller, often accused or commended for being a feminist, plans to take apart her earlier paintings thread by thread - a sort of un-sewing or undoing in the tradition of Penelope.
In all her work, she emphasizes the artist’s obligation to decode, dismantle, and undo materials and their conventional meanings before reconstituting, restructuring, and re-representing them. In the early 70s, she extended her definition of materials to include cultural artifacts such as picture postcards and their caption, texts from popular encyclopedias, automatic scripts, pot-shards, photomat portraits, etv. The artworks made with these materials celebrate a dormant, collective language normally suppressed or ignored. While many of these pieces have been exhibited, other aspects of Hiller’s work have remained virtually unknown.
Beginning April 21st, Hiller will use the potential of Matt’s Gallery to function as a workspace, to carry on some of the work she does in her own studio. She describes this Work in Progress as a painting project, and it is true that the basic materials involved are those of conventional painting. However, in this project the materials already have been constituted as iconic signs, for they consist of paintings of hers which have been exhibited previously. In this sense, the materials are cultural artifacts.
Hiller emphasizes that her undoing or dismantling of these works carries them on to the next stage in their development, and in no way indicates a destructive approach to “meaning” or negative evaluation of paintings-as-objects, either with regard to these specific paintings or with regard to painting in general. Rather, there are evident fallacies in the patriarchal notion of a “fully achieved” work of art which she wishes to locate precisely.
Because the work is in progress, Matt’s Gallery cannot announce what it’s result will be. Previous stages of Hiller’s painting project have produced interesting, sometimes beautiful, end products, for the artist’s subversive intention does not negate the possibility of making genuinely satisfying revisions.
Further exhibitions at Matt’s Gallery
Ghost / TV
25 September – 27 October 2019
Rebecca Birch, Bronwen Buckeridge, David Cheeseman, Susan Hiller and Roy Voss
Blackrock Residency 2015
15 July – 19 September 2015
13 February – 14 April 2013
The Last Silent Movie
12 – 27 July 2008
19 – 31 January 1991