Known for a practice as stylistically diverse as it is politically engaged, Mark Wallinger’s work encompasses painting, sculpture, photography, film, installation, performance and public art. He has curated exhibitions, made ballets, and won the Turner Prize in 2007 with State Britain, a chillingly exact replica of peace campaigner Brian Haw’s protest camp in London’s Parliament Square.
This exhibition, presented in two parts, one at The Fruitmarket Gallery and the other at Dundee Contemporary Arts, has been brought together in the context of Wallinger’s id Paintings, his most recent body of work. Sixty six paintings each 360cm high (twice Wallinger’s height) and 180cm wide (his height again, and also the extent of his reach with both arms outstretched), this ambitious new series of works was completed in a burst of concentrated activity from late summer 2015 to early 2016.
These new paintings bring into focus identity as a recurring theme within Wallinger’s practice. Painted by hand (and simultaneously by each hand, the left mirroring the right) they bridge image and action. They move his practice, as Wallinger has said, from ‘paintings ‘I’s’ to ‘I paint’, the line of symmetry around which each Rorschach blot-like painting pivots a representation (through both action and image) of the artist.
The standing figure (the subject who stands – and stands up for – something) is a potent force in Wallinger’s art. This exhibition brings together many such figures: the bear of Sleeper; the myriad ‘I’s of the Self Portrait paintings and the sculpture Self. It also moves beyond the standing figure to look at the importance of naming, marking and above all symmetry in the artist’s practice. Symmetry and the doubling, mirroring, twinning, splitting, and looping of the subject that comes with it.
MARK WALLINGER MARK is a collaboration between Serlachius Museums, Mänttä, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee.