Jerwood Artists Platform: Ian Whittlesea

Ian Whittlesea

Ian Whittlesea’s first major London solo exhibition presented two recently-completed series of text paintings developed over the previous eight years.

Ian Whittlesea’s four-part painting, Mont Sainte-Victoire – Paul Cezanne, lists all of the subtitles given to Cezanne’s images of that famous mountain. As is typical of his work, each canvas presents short rows of neatly-painted white letters in a modified Helvetica font set against unobtrusively-coloured, flatly-painted grounds. Yet on looking at the paintings the words disappear as the viewer visualizes the scenes that the artist has conjured.

At first glance, the text appears to be mechanically reproduced, but more careful inspection reveals the discrete traces of the hand, evidence of his patient labour and emotional engagement with the work. The making of Whittlesea’s paintings is clearly a willfully time-consuming and meditative process resulting in works that are as much to do with the daily practice of painting as they are about subject.

Ian Whittlesea, Circumnavigation, 2003. Image: Jerwood Visual Arts