Jennifer Douglas: SO: WORKPLACE LONDON

23 May - 11 July 2015

Jennifer Douglas
23rd May – 11th July 2015

Workplace London
61 Conduit Street
London W1S 2GB
Friday and Saturday, 10am – 6pm
(and by appointment)
tel: +44 (0)207 434 1985

WORKPLACE is proud to present SO the first London solo exhibition by Jennifer Douglas.

Douglas’ new work references the found working environments of heavy and light industry
and their painterly equivalents within the history of modern and contemporary art. In 2014,
Douglas created a work entitled If walls had eyes. The small painting on canvas was painted
blue and repeatedly punctured with multiple screw holes and Rawl plugs. Referencing both
the Buchi and Tagli (holes and slashes) of Lucio Fontana's paintings and the romantic escape
of the dusk sky, this work more specifically referred to a battered old industrial breezeblock
wall (photographed by Douglas in a derelict building in Middleborough) that had been
recurrently over-painted and drilled into without consideration for aesthetics or meaning. For
SO, Douglas has made an entirely new series of monochrome paintings that extend this line
of enquiry. The muted tones of industrial floor paint, all pervasive within the architectural
modes of display that surround international contemporary art, create a tranquil and opaque
surface on canvas. Douglas then repeatedly punctures and scratches the surface through
sheets of carbon paper to make a constellation of marks that is both violent and painterly.

Douglas’ paintings are interspersed by a series of sculptures assembled from objects and
materials that exist both within the lexicon of industry and architecture and also the language
of modern and contemporary painting and sculpture. Empty paint tins are filled with sticks
used to stir the (now solid) paint and are inverted to become awkward and jocular tripods; or
they are overfilled with blobs of expanding insulation foam, whilst breezeblocks become
plinths for paintings liberated from the gallery wall. Her usage of carbon paper is continued in
a series of A4 canvases in which the material is stuck directly onto the painting with varnish,
part obliterating the painted surface beneath, but revealing the diagonally repeated regal
imprint on the reverse of the carbon paper of Her (or His) Majesty’s Stationary Office. The
initials S. O. from which the exhibition takes its title are punctuated with a crown insignia, the
carbon paper having previously belonged to Douglas’ Grandmother who had worked in the
British Civil Service. Douglas’ choice of materials, those of the environments of industry, and
of carbon paper (a now redundant labor-saving material used on a mass scale in the office
industry to create copies of a typed original) speak of an era of physical production, when the
hand and the machine maintained an equilibrium that was echoed in the social cohesion of
society. They are testament to a social contract that once lay precariously at the heart of
mechanical reproduction in a new industrial age. Whilst restating the immaculacy and
autonomous authority of minimal abstraction by artists such as Kazimir Malevich or Ad
Reinhardt, Douglas’ work opens up the potential for a rich personal and social narrative
imbued with vital humanity.

Jennifer Douglas was born in 1975, in Amersham, UK. She studied at Newcastle University
and Glasgow School of Art. Exhibitions include Confusion in her eyes says it all, Maria
Stenfors, London, Satellite Satellite Workplace London, Jennifer Douglas Workplace Gallery
Gateshead, UK, Surface The Civic, Barnsley, UK, BCN Collection Laing Art Gallery,
Newcastle, UK, Out of Sight Out of Mind Workplace Gallery, Gateshead, Exit Strategy
Tramway, Glasgow, UK, The Short Score DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery, UK , You
Shall Know Our Velocity Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK, FANTASTICA
Grundy Art Gallery & Museum, Blackpool, ROTATE Contemporary Art Society, London,
Northern Futures The Civic, Barnsley, UK. She was the winner of Salon Art Prize 2012, and
Northern Futures 2010. Douglas lives and works in Gateshead, UK.