Deb Covell, Zero – Untitled Gallery Manchester

Text by Ali Gunn

Located in the basement of Friends Meeting House, the intimate space of Untitled Gallery provides the perfect setting for Deb Covell’s solo exhibition, Zero. Curated by Katie Rutherford, the grey walls of Untitled Gallery offers a muted backdrop for six monochromatic works.

Donald Judd wrote in his seminal 1965 essay Specific Objects that “Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint of a flat surface”.  Judd describes a new form of artwork that was neither painting nor sculpture.  He explains how these works, through their occupation of real space are far more commanding than works existing in only pictorial space. For this new body of work, Deb Covell uses acrylic paint to be both a dimensional form and a flat surface that seems to draw on Judd’s theories in Specific Objects.

Covell manipulates layers of black and white acrylic paint into rectangular forms, which are then gently folded or cut.   The process creates an illusionary effect, whereby the forms appear to be both malleable and rigid. On opposite sides of the gallery from one another, Black Curve and White Curve are posited flat against the wall, creating a rectangular boundary.  Representational of the formal shape of a painting supported by a canvas, the gentle crease of a corner transports the works into three-dimensional form.  Similarly with Double Edge, a tantalizing fold of paint appears to be gently pulling away from itself breaking up the white plane of paint.

In Fold 1 Covell retains the formal shape of a rectangle through the use of contrast between black and white paint. The gentle fold creates limits and lines that both distort and arrange the composition. Warping the acrylic paint to appear its most malleable, Back to Front and Drape stand out as the most sculptural works in the exhibition and through their presentation break up the formalism of the other works.  Back to Front is carefully placed on the floor with soft creases that allude to the gentle rhythms that appear when material falls and forms it’s own shape.

The works in the exhibition reveal a practice that is driven by process. Deb Covell’s new body of sculptural works command the space that they occupy, achieved through her distortion of the formal qualities of paint.

Deb Covell is the Co-Founder and Director of Platform A Gallery in Middlesbourgh.

Zero is on display until the 7th December 2013.

Ali Gunn is an artist, writer and curator based in Manchester.

Published 28.11.2013 by Ali Gunn in Reviews

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