DOCUMENT is pleased to present Supports/Surfaces: Objects of Knowledge, which features historical and recent work by Louis Cane, Noël Dolla and Claude Viallat. These three artists were members of Supports/Surfaces, a shifting group of some twelve painters from the South of France who began collaborating and showing together in 1966. Supports/Surfaces: Objects of Knowledge will revisit their past work while also making note of the subtle evolution of their practices up through the present day.
Central to Supports/Surfaces was the systematic interrogation (and, in many cases, separation) of the medium’s constituent components: paint, canvas, and stretcher. The group showed both within art institutions and in outdoor, sometimes remote locations, distributing their paintings in the landscape with guerrilla idealism. They were influenced by radical ideas from various, even oppositional quarters, matching the utopian dreaming of May ‘68 with the uncompromising critical theory of Louis Althusser and the Tel Quel group.
Supports/Surfaces artists devised signature approaches even as they actively sought common strategies. Viallat stenciled kidney bean-like forms into grids on unframed and unstretched canvases that could be hung on a gallery wall, the middle of a room, or outside in public space. Dolla’s Tarlatanes, strips of painted canvas hung from the ceiling, played on Barnett Newman’s modernist “zips,” liberating them from all constraints–yet he also made a point of painting on everyday materials such as handkerchiefs and dishtowels. Cane’s Toiles Découpées (Cut Canvases) spilled onto the floor from their positions on the wall, aiming for simultaneous absorption and materiality.