Skip to main content

Word Paintings

Stephen Carter

In 2000, I started collecting words that I found on the front covers of popular magazines that were displayed in places like railway stations. As with the newspaper material, amongst other things, I was interested to question my ambivalence towards the subject. In this case I was curious about how this engagement with the material related to consumerism along with collective desire and fear. Why would I spend precious time loitering around magazine stands and never buy anything? By the time of a painting such as ‘Your Wedding’, I had developed a method of collecting words that appeared on the front of magazines on a magazine stand (i.e. 57 words for ‘Your Wedding’), then juxtaposing words from the back, so that the relationships of the words would be unknown until the painting was finished. I maintained the troubled grainy look of the last of the ‘Newspaper Paintings’ with the use of the oil bar on canvas or linen grounds. I wanted all the words to be readable, but to draw the viewer into the material incidents within the painting. In retrospect the ‘Word Paintings’ and the ‘Newspaper Paintings’ can also be seen as a reflection on the passing of the dominance of printed media.