David Thomas

When Two Directions Become All Directions (Green over grey yellow)

When Two Directions Become All Directions (Green over grey yellow) by David Thomas

Artwork Detail

Thomas’ paintings entitle When Two Directions Become All Directions are concerned with time and the monochrome, extending this abstract mode of painting into a durational experience. The paintings evoke the idea of being comprised of two brushstrokes, one from either side of the canvas. There is a simplicity but also subtle variation in each related to the artist’s touch and an immersive potential that Thomas sees in the movement along the surface and the tension between the surface and the atmospheric colour space.

Time is key to these and other recent works. Time for Thomas is a method and content, as he states: “Time as a method can be understood through my application of the principles of duration to a work of art via structure and composition to enable content to be deferred or unfold and change over the time of experiencing a work.” The idea of time has also been important to interpretations of contemporary painting. Art theorist David Joselit in his essay ‘Reassembling Painting’ (in Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age, 2016) argues that painting enters into networks of culturally specific time and place, and embodies the affect of networks in a digital age in terms of unfolding in space. Thomas’ art, whether photographs or paintings, can be understood as a mechanism that operates to enable reflection of how we individually construct meaning or make sense of the world.

In Thomas’ hands the monochrome is not a modernist endpoint but acts as an interval in the world, a key to help see what surrounds it. As he states: “ The apparent simplicity of the monochrome belies the complexity of issues that can be revealed by employing it: from a re-engagement with immanence (being-in-the-world) to the histories, politics, understandings of colour codings and meanings, and if we extend our studies beyond the conventional western definitions of the monochrome it affords us a vital opportunity to understand the broader complexities/hybridities of our cultural interactions, similarities and differences.”

In this way, Thomas’ paintings ask the viewer to invest in their depth; depth of colour, energy of feeling and time space of experiencing the work as part of the world. At the same time Thomas’ works are asking viewers to question their certainties, both perceptual and intellectual. These monochrome paintings are tools for considering how we look, feel and construct an experience of the world. These paintings were made to be explored in time, for viewers to contemplate these works, like other objects, in terms of how we see and make sense of the world.

When Two Directions Become All Directions (Green over grey yellow)
David Thomas
Production date
acrylic on Dibond
295 x 200 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the artist, 2017
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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