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20140916145130-tih2 20140922044138-thereisheresoundpiece 20140922044131-alwayswindowdetail 20140922044127-alwayswindow 20140916144852-ambientbangs2 20140916144853-ambientbangs1 20140916144905-ambientbangs4 20140916144904-ambientbangs3 20140916144923-ambientbangs5
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
20140916144045-rbcp4
Installation view from There is Here, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
Installation view from There is Here,
2014, various, variable
© Photo by Lindsey Bond
There is Here sound piece, Robert TaiteRobert Taite, There is Here sound piece
© Courtesy of the artist
Always window detail, Robert TaiteRobert Taite, Always window detail
© Courtesy of the artist
Always window  , Robert TaiteRobert Taite, Always window
© Courtesy of The Artist
30 ½” x 29 ½” – 5 ½” x 7”, 4” x 11”, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
30 ½” x 29 ½” – 5 ½” x 7”, 4” x 11”,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, 30 ½” x 29 ½” – 5 ½” x 7”, 4” x 11”
© Photo by Ashley Gillanders
28” x 23” + 1 ¾” + approx. 42 ½” x 4”, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
28” x 23” + 1 ¾” + approx. 42 ½” x 4”,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, 28” x 23” + 1 ¾” + approx. 42 ½” x 4”
© Photo by Ashley Gillanders
24” x 24” + ¾” x 16”, 14”, 14”, Robert TaiteRobert Taite, 24” x 24” + ¾” x 16”, 14”, 14”,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, 24” x 24” + ¾” x 16”, 14”, 14”
© Photo by Ashley Gillanders
17 ½” x 12” + 15 ½” x 8 ½” w/ 1 ¾” x 42 ½”, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
17 ½” x 12” + 15 ½” x 8 ½” w/ 1 ¾” x 42 ½”,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, marine vinyl, 17 ½” x 12” + 15 ½” x 8 ½” w/ 1 ¾” x 42 ½”
© Photo by Ashley Gillanders
14 ½” x 11 ½”, Robert TaiteRobert Taite, 14 ½” x 11 ½”,
2014, wood, latex paint, 14 ½” x 11 ½”
© Photo by Ashley Gillanders
Installation view from There is Here, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
Installation view from There is Here,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, variable
© Photo by Lindsey Bond
Installation view from Always Somewhere Else, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
Installation view from Always Somewhere Else,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, marine vinyl, variable
© Photo by Ivan Binet
Untitled work from Always Somewhere Else, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
Untitled work from Always Somewhere Else,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint
© Photo by Ivan Binet
Untitled work from Always Somewhere Else, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
Untitled work from Always Somewhere Else,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, 4 1/2" x approx. 120"
© Photo by Ivan Binet
Untitled work from Always Somewhere Else, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
Untitled work from Always Somewhere Else,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, marine vinyl, approx. 60" x 36"
© Photo by Ivan Binet
Installation view from Always Somewhere Else, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
Installation view from Always Somewhere Else,
2014, wood, canvas, latex paint, variable
© Photo by Ivan Binet
Untitled work from Always Somewhere Else, Robert TaiteRobert Taite,
Untitled work from Always Somewhere Else,
2014, wood, latex paint, approx. 48" x 48"
© Photo by Ivan Binet
Robert Taite holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba. Taite constructs sculptural paintings that begin as experiments in simple formal and material possibilities. When the pieces (often unfinished) start to pile up in his studio, their original, individual purposes get muddled and lost, as they are recycled to solve problems created by new assemblages. This process continues in the gallery where it...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with Robert Taite

Winnipeg, Sept. 2014: Robert Taite generates content through painting. Visual data culled through transitions, his paintings seem coy or perhaps indifferent to what Donald Judd described as “specific” in his seminal 1965 essay Specific Objects. While influenced by post war conceptual art, Taite’s own work feels of the moment with a cut-and-paste aesthetic; sources are loose and refreshed often. His practice prompts associations with a continuum of artists playing with architecture and design that irks some purists invested in delineating disciplines—a roster of which he continues to expand, especially with relation to sound art.

I asked the artist via email about his series of recent exhibitions influenced by transitions: both spatial and auditory.


Robert Taite, There is Here, Installation view at aceartinc.; Photo: © Lindsey Bondl; Courtesy of the artist


Courtney R. Thompson: This year started with two large-scale exhibitions back to back: Always Somewhere Else, at l’Œil de Poisson in Quebec, and There is Here at aceartinc. in Winnipeg. How did the experience of working with artist-run centers prepare you for your current exhibition, Ambient Bangs at Actual Gallery in Winnipeg (Sept. 5 – Oct. 6), which is a much more intimate commercial gallery space?

Robert Taite: The show in Quebec was the culmination of a three-month residency where I was living and working in the same building. I had my own space on the mezzanine level of the wood shop where artists pay a membership fee to be able to drop in any time during the day and work on their projects. I got along with the staff there and they helped hone my skills with woodworking. I started using basswood instead of pine and learned how to use a router to clean up my edges.

At the time I was sketching out a lot of formal possibilities in relation to the somewhat strict set of materials I use (wood, canvas, latex paint and vinyl). Paintings spilling out of paintings, paintings stacked on paintings, painted canvas draped over long narrow paintings, etc. I began integrating curved shapes, since I now had the tools to make them and started thinking about these shapes as organs or more literally, blobs of paint. Often, these blobs are contained within windows that I cut out of the paintings. So, it’s both the window into the anatomy of the paintings and the representation of a painting in the view of someone who has an extreme resistance to mark making (me).

Robert Taite, Always window; Courtesy of the artist

 

CRT: Can you speak to this concept of the window a little more? I am especially interested in how it appeared in both artist-run exhibitions this year.

RT: The theme of the window was actually very prominent. For Always Somewhere Else, I had the idea to cut a hole in a painting and through the wall it was hanging on, so that you could see through the storage room on the other side of the wall and out the window to some apartments across the street. I left the canvas relatively raw, aside from a few wipes of painty fingers from the studio to illustrate that the surface was irrelevant to the meaning of the piece. That this painting is completely transparent and also real, in other words, about where we are literally in the building in relation to everything else "out there." It’s a very voyeuristic piece too because you can see the goings-on in the apartment windows across the street, but I believe this piece tied most of the show together. Not only was I thinking of my process of working as being always fixated on the next idea, but also the ideas themselves seemed to always allude to other places. For a long time I’ve been interested in my pieces as flirting with the boundaries of autonomy and as being connected to their neighbours simultaneously.

When I returned to Winnipeg, I had about a month and a half to prepare for There is Here, which was in an equally gigantic space. This time I was excited about the inconsistencies in the old architecture of the building the gallery is in. The floors are really not level, there are pipes everywhere, and the walls are broken up by old wood columns and radiators. I shipped all the work from Quebec back to Winnipeg and my plan was to show about two-thirds of the pieces again, but this time reconfigure them. Essentially, letting the process I began with to continue past the point of already having been exhibited, using the gallery as a new blank canvas. I showed the window piece described above again, but this time the hole in the wall looked through the adjacent room and the viewer did not have access to this space, which housed a select few pieces. This time, the limitations of the viewers’ viewpoint was the focal point. A lot of people wanted to be able to see what else was in the room, so I think it was successful in that way.

For Ambient Bangs, I wanted a different feel and started from scratch. This time I picked up about six 1-litre cans of mis-tinted latex house paints (as I typically use) and tried to stick with that restricted palette for all the works in the exhibition. The previous shows had a lot of "pieces" (more than 30 each) so I wanted to see what I could do in a smaller space with more room for each to breathe. The process was very similar to the previous two shows, except I focused on the colours as connecting factors between the pieces, more than composition. Every time I add a colour, it’s at least two coats of paint, so some of these pieces have several because I kept changing my mind. Then in other parts I left the canvas raw or only applied one coat in one case. Ambient Bangs is a combination of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and the juke/footwork compilations Bangs & Works Vol.’s 1 & 2 put out by Planet Mu, both of which I listened to a lot during the process of putting together these works. It’s a contradictory phrase that works well with my thinking: A long nothing and then something. Also, reading David Toop’s Ocean of Sound was instrumental as well. The whole idea of “ambience” or “ambient music” is very ambivalent and yet it has such a rich history and in a way kind of defined pop culture in the 20th century, starting from the Futurist Manifesto and the birth of noise, going through the development of jazz to its ultimate freedom and then rock and electronic music. As one of Toop’s chapters is titled, you can really step back and think of it all as content in a void. I can’t help but transfer my thoughts about music into my art. "Variations on a theme" always pops into my head. How far can I push this composition, these forms, these combinations of colours, before it’s not working anymore? Then I have to pull back and re-evaluate. Maybe Ambient Bangs is like an EP.


Robert Taite, There is Here, Sound piece, Installation view at aceartinc.; Courtesy of the artist

 

CRT: You refer to sound often in our conversations. In your exhibition at aceartinc. there was an untitled piece that incorporated sound positioned behind an arrangement of canvases. In addition to your painting practice, you are also a member of the programming committee for send + receive (an experimental sound festival in Winnipeg). Does this piece represent a growing interest in bringing these two elements together?

RT: For a long time I’ve wanted to integrate sound into my work. My friend Rubén Patiño in Berlin was doing these performances where he amplified very loud tones or textural noises and held and manipulated various objects in front of the speakers in order to redirect and reshape the sound in the space. I thought: why not put paintings directly on the speakers? I got Rubén to make me tracks of pink and brown noise and I played them through the speakers (one on the left and the other on the right channel), then hung shaped canvases on the speakers that could be manipulated and changed the texture of the sound in the space. I was reading about John Cage’s visit to the anechoic chamber at Harvard in 1951 and I found it interesting that you hear two distinct sounds within that complete "silence": a very high tone and a very low one, being your nervous and circulatory systems, respectively. So you never really have silence. I often use a speckled effect on my paintings by spraying watered down latex paint through an air gun, which I think references laminate architectural finishing, but also white noise and snow on old TV sets. I think you put it best in terms of “all painting is noise” in our walk-through, which I like a lot. As a painter, I take the elements of the visual world that grab my attention and filter it through my perspective and then inevitably, the outcome only adds to the torrent of visual information (or noise) we consume.

Being a part of send + receive these past five or so years has really opened my eyes to an alternative facet of the art world. It seems a little more relaxed than the visual art world—maybe it’s meeting and spending time with people like Akio Suzuki, Tony Conrad, and Charlemagne Palestine. All three have concurrent visual art practices as well. I think there’s potential to explore painting and sound in the future, when the time comes.

CRT: You are shortlisted for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of two artists representing Winnipeg. In the wake of the legacy of The Royal Art Lodge, it seems Winnipeg might be poised for a broader and more diverse artistic revival that’s recognized outside of itself. What is your relationship to this regionalism?

RT: It’s difficult for me to situate myself within the Winnipeg art community, maybe because it is so diverse right now. When I was doing my BFA, we had a few young profs who just came back from big schools in the States (Sarah Anne Johnson, Lynn Richardson, Lisa Wood) with a lot of energy and new found success and fellow students of mine were getting a lot of attention outside of Winnipeg and doing their MFAs in exciting places (again, names: Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline, Divya Mehra, Elaine Stocki). It felt like there were possibilities and that was encouraging, because when I was growing up I thought that Winnipeg was a very isolated place. I come from a blue-collar family. We never went to galleries or museums or anything, so the art world was really a mystery to me right up to when I was going to university. In a way, it still is and I don’t mind that too much. I sometimes feel I have a stronger connection with the music community here. My first exhibition was at Negative Space, which is no longer around, but I think its impact on Winnipeg was tremendous in integrating the music and art communities. It was made up of a collective of artists and musicians who put on metal, grind, noise, performance, and art shows. I was lucky enough to be a part of that brief but exciting time. I have no intention of leaving Winnipeg anytime soon. It’s affordable, supportive and stimulating.

 

Courtney R. Thompson

 

ArtSlant would like to thank Robert Taite for his assistance in making this interview possible.

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