A CONVERSATION WITH ROSS NORMANDIN
ON THE OCCASION OF AGAIN AGAIN AT GRIN
The July paintings were made throughout the month of October. They are exact in length, width and depth with varying appendages. They consume the hue of the wall that supports them. A roll cage sits opposite from the July paintings. Cage is a series of metal bars designed to be installed in a vehicle as a safety mechanism; often times for auto racing. This is a background.
Internal and external; purging, laughing, praying; this pairing of new works is one of relationships. As much in opposition as they are in concert, the inherent material qualities lead towards states of levity and weight. Silicone knots embedded in translucent glass and a vacant welded skeleton share unspoken narratives. Free of skin and shell. July repeats. Cage is inert.
One foreground, short holidays, and the dog chases it's tail. It's built to win and built to crash.
GRIN- How does repetition exist in your work?
ROSS NORMANDIN- Maybe a navel, asshole, or armpit is funny the first time, but a third or fourth? Then does it become funny again at the sixth or seventh? With these new works there’s not only the repetition of a similar image, but also the physical repetition of a puncture; pressure created and the unclarity and denial of vision within each object. I am not interested in resolution through repetition. I aim for a space of contemplation where the paintings function as one - where your laugh exists in the same space as disgust. There’s a purity in the quality of materials, but it’s interesting to confuse, disorient, and challenge that purity through multiple variations and time.
GRIN- Your color palette is somewhere between Easter and industrial waste. Could you tell us how you arrived at this palette and how it ties into the greater concept of your work?
RN- Color is a very active part of my work. I try to keep it simple. I’ve been using pastels and an unsaturated palette for many years now. Hospitals, in particular, are of interest to me. Having been a visitor to hospitals nearly my entire life has made me gravitate to the calming, yet uncomfortable colors of a waiting room or a patient’s “johnny.” Have you seen what nurse’s wear nowadays? Those incredibly obnoxious patterned shirts - I just love them. I utilize the material’s natural color whenever I can. Stainless steel - more often than not, I use polished steel which has certain connotations of sterility.
A feeling that the surface is so clean it kills. Subtle shifts and careful consideration of color pairings are always happening. Lavender / chrome; sundown / flesh tone; piss pool / sky blue - it can activate the work very differently depending on the pairing.
GRIN- Do you consider your works to exist somewhere in the domestic dialogue?
RN- I think there are instances where my work can certainly be seen that way. Particularly when I introduce specific materials like a frame of a vehicle, swimming pool vinyl, sofa upholstery, or birthday balloons. I intend to leave a trace - my own personal history isn’t relevant. There are places and objects that are more charged than others for me. Those that were inhabited by a body - masks and tubs to name a couple.
GRIN- Your work employs some heavy use of artificial material. Where and how do you find these materials? Is there a personal association with these materials?
RN- I only use silicone, plexiglass, and steel in this show. There’s a variety of materials in my studio at any given time. Many of which are found and then intervened with, but most are materials I’ve chosen deliberately to work with. The found material is much more specific and I usually seek those out. Marble trophy bases are the only natural material I work with — everything else is in the synthetic or processed realm. There are personal associations with many, but I’m not one to be heavy handed.
GRIN- Describe the process of switching between 'sculpture' and 'painting'.
RN- There is a system in place for the two-dimensional work. The last few shows I’ve had I exhibited a series of almost identical paintings with one sculpture. The sculptures exist alone, however, they’re integral to the exhibit. The 2d works are individual, but I see them as functioning as one within a given space. With these works in Again Again, the processes were not so different. Sanding the plexiglass to create a fog and grinding and polishing steel to make a near mirror finish would seem like opposites, which visually they are, but the process is very similar. There is a bit more sweat involved in one than the other, but my actions are very similar. I am interested in how to make those connections on a formal level with two distinct forms in one space. The floor sculpture is a way to turn the knife while it’s in; to open it up. Functionality is more at the core with the floor works - wall works involve more of the senses and tend to call attention to the frontality, but who says it doesn’t has it’s back to you? I don’t think I deliberately switch from one to the other or even think whether they’re painting or sculpture, but I think in terms of the spatial relationships with the wall, floor, and viewer. Everything I’ve made in last few years is a body, whether on a wall or on the floor.