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Newspaper Paintings

Stephen Carter

In 1995 I started making ‘Newspaper Paintings’. These emerged out of my previous body of work – ‘Impression Paintings’. The ‘Impression Paintings’ were paintings made up of the information of the painting itself (title, dimensions, materials, date etc) – hand-painted on another surface and pressed onto the canvas resulting in a kind of layered mirror writing that was just about legible. 

The ‘Newspaper Paintings’ also occupied this space where the viewer is encouraged to hover between seeing and reading.

At first I tried painting over and painting out newspapers, then moved towards hand-painted one to one scale replication paintings, where the text, images and advertisements in the original were translated into black or white rectangles. I was thinking about how we engage with the newspaper – its format and the abrupt juxtapositions of content from tragedy to trivia, from fact to opinion. Some items we read and others we pass over, but in any case I thought, we tend to do little or nothing about the issues and stories we are presented with. Consequently the consumption of the newspaper is normally without issue. I thought of this in terms of the black hole of forgetting or the white tabula rasa that has never been accessed in the first place. In the period I often made two versions of the same painting – one with black rectangles and the other with white such as with ‘Police Wipe Guns Debate Off Agenda’. The titles for the paintings were typically taken from the headline of the day. Many years later the word ‘redaction’ came into common use and retrospectively these paintings seem to comment on this phenomenon and more broadly on questions of censorship and self-censorship.