Formal Ian Talbot: Retrospective – One Square 01 :: Formal Concerns
Chapter 36 of the ongoing series Ian Talbot : Retrospective by British fine art photographer Ian Talbot.
One Square 01 :: Formal Concerns
© Ian Talbot
“Seeing a thing can sometimes trigger the mind to make another thing. In some instances the new work may include, as a sort of subject matter, references to the thing that was seen and, because works of painting tend to share many aspects, working itself may initiate memories of other works, naming or painting these ghosts sometimes seems to be a way to stop their nagging.” Jasper Johns
Everything has to have a beginning and it is totally logical that my “Formal Concerns” series should start with one square (actually a distressed mirror tile) centred on a background. In fact this image was made before I had even conceived of the project as a whole; in other words the rest grew organically out of this one image.
I had been looking at the work of Malevich and been fascinated at the conceptual leap that led to his 1918 “White On White” piece, a simple white square, slightly angled and placed towards the upper right of a white canvas. Malevich had earlier in 1915 produced “Red Square” a simple red square, centred in this case, on a white ground. I had noticed, also, that Malevich’s red square was, unlike the white one, not in fact perfect. He himself said “No more likenesses of reality, no idealistic images. Nothing but a desert! But this desert is filled with the spirit of non-objective sensation which pervades everything.” These notions were the basis of Malevich’s technologically inspired Suprematism movement.
Such was the inspiration behind “One Square 01”, the simplest of images really. I did, however, as I have said before about this series, use a “lens baby”, a cheap plastic “bendy” lens to distort and smear the perfect square of the tile. A simple concept, a simple image; nothing much more than a direct rip of Malevich’s original concept. But this simple idea led to an ongoing series with which I explored more “formal” issues in greater depth. Sometimes “beginnings” can be no more complicated than that…