Tirtzah Bassel

A mask will appear from above you, oil on canvas, 48”x60”, 2012

A mask will appear from above you, oil on canvas, 48”x60”, 2012

Airport In Security (installation view), duct tape on wall, 44’x12’, 2012

Airport In Security (installation view), duct tape on wall, 44’x12’, 2012

Last year a friend challenged me to recreate images from my paintings using a medium I had never used before. The night before she came, I picked up a few rolls of duct tape that were lying around my studio and was immediately turned on by the countless possibilities it offered as an artistic medium. Using subtle differences in tone and transparency I molded the tape into figures and forms, creating a highly tactile surface that engaged the line between drawing and sculpture. Soon I was transforming these images into large-scale duct tape installations rendered directly on gallery walls. The limitations dictated by the size, color and opacity of the tape challenged me to capitalize on the possibilities that each stroke presented. The large scale of the pieces and the short time frame I had for these site-specific installations were new to me and pushed me to work in a clear and concise manner. My subject matter, Airport Security or the transient space of the subway, resonate with the duct tape’s allusion to things held together temporarily in emergency situations.

Strangely, not only did the duct tape whet my appetite for oil paint, it also shifted something fundamental in the way I relate to painting. Back in the studio I began to pay closer attention to the characteristics of each color as I squeeze it out of the tube. Rather than coerce the paint, I use its inherent limitations to propel me forward. I tackle larger surfaces and complete paintings in shorter time frames. When images from my duct tape installations creep into my paintings I ask: what can paint tell me about these images that the duct tape has not revealed? In turn, images that develop in paintings feed into the next round of duct tape installations. At this point, as I move continuously between duct tape and oil, it is hard to say which is the body and which is the buddy.  –Tirtzah Bassel, 2013

Tirtzah’s recent duct tape installation is on display at ROOMS through February 14th 2013.

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