ROB & NICK CARTER: Paint Pigment Photographs

10 February - 28 April 2018


Rob and Nick Carter’s latest body of work, Paint Pigment Photographs, continues the artistic duo’s preoccupation with light, colour and form. As artistic collaborators the Carters have worked across many mediums to probe these fields and their latest departure introduces performance related gestural actions.


The Hindu festival of Holi initially inspired the unique action photography that beautifully captures paint pigment spontaneously thrown into the air. The luminosity of the raw pigment is juxtaposed against the clear blue sky as if it were dancing in space. Holi is also known as the Festival of Colours and is an occasion every year for the strict codes of conduct governing Hindu culture to be relaxed.


Whilst removed from this religious and social context, the artworks generate an emotive response. We might recall throwing bundles of leaves in the air as a child or water fights as similar joyful expressions of released energy. This act of mark making with paint is recorded in a rhythmic, almost primeval way. The artists seek to engage the viewer in the work, provoking the sensation that they too are part of the gestural act.


The photograph is the only record of the ‘painting in space’, capturing a fleeting moment in time. The work plays on the transient nature of light and form, and also creates a dialogue about the ephemeral aspect of art. What we see can only ever be a minute fraction of what existed, that is the eternal conundrum of a mechanically made image and optical knowledge- a subject that the Carters have been keen to explore.


The physical act of throwing the pigment is an essential aspect of the finished work. Explosions of paint pigment captured at 1/8000th of a second retain the energy of the act itself, suspended in space. The resulting photograph, no easy thing to create, is a physical manifestation of the actual performance, creating an imprint of the creative act. There is a duality at play in the work between considered action and forces beyond the artists’ control. Though they have a general notion of what they hope to create, ultimately the paint pigment has a life of its own.


These compelling images are essentially about colour and an unpredictable interaction with form and light. Rich manmade paint pigments against the unbeatable natural blue of the sky. The Carters create their own coloured clouds and when seen together as a body of work they go beyond the simple names for colours or festivals and cultures and stand for something more eternal and ultimately, joyful.