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Frank Littler CV (PDF)

Stories – Recent Paintings
4 June to 28 June 2008

Stories is a good title for Frank Litter's exhibition as narratives and fictions are at the very heart of all historical, contemporary and personal truths.

The paintings in this show initially look quite disparate – heads, buildings, maps, caves and the aquarium but gradually the viewer becomes aware they are linked by Littler's use of various formal and perceptual screens.

Through these screens Littler invites us into a space which lies beyond the surface of the picture plane, often an enclosed cave- like space where the visual action is taking place. These screens are not constrained to the surface but travel through the work to intersect as much as they overlay the image. It is these points of disjuncture and rupture that draw attention to our own 'reading' and our own 'seeing' of the painting before us.

We bring what we know of the world to our reading of a painting- it happens in a moment and in the completeness of seeing but it also happens slowly and over much a longer space of time. There is the experiential and there is an analytical reading. Litter's painting does something strange - they manage to sandwich both ways of reading together and fix them in the same inseparable moment.

Littler's use of the picture planes is at the very heart of his work – work that is about the actual language of paint and at the same time acknowledges that the works must reflect the artist's own experience, interests, views and concerns. These may not be in the forefront of his mind while painting but instead pop up in the work less consciously than that. It is Littler's belief that to be successful, a painting should stand alone - cut loose from it cultural and art historical, political and personal contexts – not that all of these factors don't add to a kind of understanding of the work but to see them as the work itself is a mistake.

The title is also on the other hand a bit of a ruse. These paintings are not didactic; the stories they tell are multi-layered, quirky and incomplete. You take them in as a whole, the surface, the screen, the cave-like centre, the various actions, and the ambiguous use of space, the paint and its depicted forms - but as to what to 'read' this remains open-ended.

Isobel Johnston
May 2008

Frank Littler 2005 Exhibition