Systems Art

Neil Ferguson
16000 Paintings as a Sequence


Systems Art – symposium & exhibitions
Unit 6
London Metropolitan University

October 26 – 30, 2007

installation of 16000 paintings

This exhibition was staged as a contribution to the Systems Art symposium at the Whitechapel (Laboratory) alongside the Art & Language exhibition, Now They are Surrounded: Reconfigured. Speakers at the conference included Art & Language, Mary Anne Francis, Robert Linsley, Francis Halsall and Peter Osborne.

Systems Art website

The extensive series of works followed on from previous large series of drawings produced during the Imagine/Image project with the Fondazione Baruchello examining the contemporary role of the image. The exhibition displayed sixteen thousand small silhouette paintings that followed strict rules.

Each painting:

uses the same brush.
is the same size.
uses Ivory black paint.
is a complete silhouette.
has no gaps or spaces within the painted form.
is numbered.
is not titled.
cannot be repainted.

Slideshow: Neil Ferguson -16000 Paintings as a Sequence

The series began in January 2006 as a system of accessing “wee thoughts” from readings of previous drawings and sketches, whereby the series might grow to become larger than Picasso’s Guernica.

I wanted to consider the construction of scale through specific processes of production by applying experience to each image.

I wanted to:

paint things that displayed their time of production. act on intrigue and interest.
emphasise obsessive actions.
display my imaginings as signs.
give significance to “thoughts” as mass.
promote painted language.
propose paintings as sets of serialised instances.

Every piece was both outcome and possibility. By conforming to identifiable rules, images emerged sequentially resembling a conversation around certainty and uncertainty. Through narrowing possibilities of choice, a platform for imagining is established that allows feeling, sensing and reacting to take place.

The system forms a language.

paper: 16000 Paintings as a Sequence


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