Ivan Seal in conversation with Harriet Loffler of Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Friday 19 April, 19.00
“We see memory as this expanding architecture, rooms which open out on rooms – it’s very labyrinthine – and I’m trying, with paint, to furnish those rooms.” (Ivan Seal with Harriet Loffler,Norwich University of the Arts November 2012)
Plemploted fowidead and its accompanying drawing ors devurth at seven (swingerbuffetbit) both 2011, were recently gifted by the Contemporary Art Society to Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery. These two works, along with a number of other paintings by Ivan Seal, are presented here in dialogue with ceramic figurines dating mainly from the 19th century and selected by the artist from the Norwich Castle collection, in addition to objects from Seal’s own collection.
At first, Ivan Seal’s paintings appear as depictions of objects taken directly from life, but are in fact drawn from the artist’s imagination. Forms in thick paint emerge from a smooth stage-like background and are reminiscent of the Victorian tradition of still-life paintings, a particular strength in the collection at Norwich Castle. But where the conventional notion of still-life is to stop time, in these paintings time begins to loop. Seal rarely divulges the subject of his paintings and is interested instead in what each viewer sees in his compositions. It is as if he puts memory and language through a sampling machine, taking fragments of an object or a remembered moment and creating a new experience. His titles are devised in a similar way from a list of words created by a random word computer generator.
Seal’s practice has arrived at painting from sound, a side of his work recently explored in an exhibition earlier this year at Spike Island, In Here Stands It, where computer-generated sound works were shown alongside his canvases. He was part of the sound noise duo ‘Nish’ with artist Benedict Drew, using programmes such as Maximus P to make self-generating sound crunching out noise into rooms. The paintings function in a similar way, their textural elements unfolding into the gallery space like sculpture or sound.