Brad Grievson,   Stray hairs,   2015 Colored pencil on primed linen 215 x 465 cm,   courtesy of VI,   VII,   Oslo,   Photographer: Vegard Kleven

Brad Grievson, Stray hairs, 2015 Colored pencil on primed linen 215 x 465 cm, courtesy of VI, VII, Oslo, Photographer: Vegard Kleven

On January 23 at VI, VII gallery in Oslo inaugurated To the Editor, Dear Sir, a solo show by London-based artist Brad Grievson (b.1986).

Formally elegant, and remarkably violent at once, these works are composed from various torn and cut sections of black cotton cloth, that are laid and arranged into configuration before being fixed onto canvas with a clear adhesive medium. Recently, the sections of fabric have started to relate to the measurements and format of newspaper broadsheets—a material the artist uses to prepare his studio for working during an informal process of composition that involves laying newspaper along the floor.

We asked some questions to Brad Grievson.

ATP: The title for this exhibition comes from a 1972 animation, ‘Snoopy come home’, in which Snoopy, who’s notoriously a mute character, speaks for the first time. In this exhibition, text appears for the first time in your artworks. How did it all start? How did you get the idea for this new series and for the concept of this exhibition?

Brad Grievson: I re-watched the animation about 18 months ago and this was the first time I had seen it since my childhood. I have spoken to a lot of people since who remember it fondly for the artwork and the beautiful hand-painted backgrounds. It seemed relevant to be looking at animation because I was thinking about how my own works were organised as flat images and how works formally develop from one to the next. I was also looking at Robert Breer at lot, particularly works like ‘69’ (1969).

The particular scene from ‘Snoopy Come Home’ that I kept returning to is one in which Snoopy dictates a formal letter of complaint to Woodstock, who types it up on a typewriter. The whole dialogue is inaudible but the collaboration is represented in the way the drawings are realised (the way the characters move etc.) It is a scene about language and communication, interpretation and representation. I was thinking a lot about how my work communicates differently depending on how the materials and formal decisions are arranged. The actual shot of the letter within the animation is a drawing of a typed document, and I think about the text which is cut into my painting works in similar way: as something between drawing and writing.

ATP: A huge drawing, 4.5 meters long, dialogues with a small sculpture of a clock. Could you explain further the connection between these two artworks?

BG: The drawing is made up of small, kind of aimless marks that build upon each other into a large blue field. There was a lot of labour involved in making it. Within this field of marks are drawings of enlarged hairs that look like they are floating on the surface. Some of them form vague letters or things that look like they could be the beginnings of a form. I was thinking about different kinds of time that are involved in different works, and different kinds of time which organise a studio day. Making the clock felt like failed heroic gesture – to make a sculpture about time. In this way it feels like a sculpture which is about making. Materially the two works also feel quite similarly treated, both are quite rough in relation to the other painting works in the show.

ATP: Newspapers have been a main feature of your work. Why do they fascinate you?

BG: I recently finished a large body of work (for a different show) in which images of torn newspaper sheets were meticulously reproduced on plaster panels. I was interested in the doubly, but very differently, representative gestures of the tearing of the paper and the printer-like straight lines which composed the drawings. I find it interesting that newspapers are simultaneously very highly considered and designed documents, which are have particular styles, content, adopted political stances etc., and at the same time constitute a huge body of paper material that finds its way into different kinds of uses and situations as a type of lowest-of-the-low, bricolage material. They’re interesting to use because they straddle image and object in that way.

ATP: Could you introduce us to your working process? Would you define it as more concept-driven or as an experimentation with materials?

BG: The two concerns run in parallel in the work. Some of the time, ideas for works will necessitate finding a particular kind of material. Then often the restriction of not being able to find exactly what I want will feed back into the work and things may have to be adapted. That adaptation is part of what develops things in the work also – as new imagery and materials are found. The fabric I used in the black-fabric works was originally used to make about a hundred polaroid-sized objects that I wanted to use for something. In part prompted by the material, I then began using it in other works. It is casement fabric, used in theatre stage preparation to cover particular objects or parts of objects which should not be visible when on stage. It has a very peculiar optical flatness. I also used the fabric to make the face of the clock work.

In the large drawing work, I knew I wanted that work to have something of an abject quality which is what motived the choice of materials. The pencil crayon is quite dusty and messy, and the drawing hangs heavily on the wall, put up with screws.

Interview by Matteo Mottin

Until the 1st of March.

vivii.no

Installation view,   courtesy of VI,   VII,   Oslo,   Photographer: Vegard Kleven

Installation view, courtesy of VI, VII, Oslo, Photographer: Vegard Kleven

Installation view,   courtesy of VI,   VII,   Oslo,   Photographer: Vegard Kleven

Installation view, courtesy of VI, VII, Oslo, Photographer: Vegard Kleven

Installation view,   courtesy of VI,   VII,   Oslo,   Photographer: Vegard Kleven

Installation view, courtesy of VI, VII, Oslo, Photographer: Vegard Kleven