Grinding your teeth to keep out the wind,
The Sunday Painter, London
16 April – 14 May 2016

Comfort is the number one enemy of the artistic state, and the only place where we belong is balancing on top of picket fences. Neighbours look out their kitchen windows, wondering where our allegiances will finally lie and we’re running out of ways to reposition our burdensome legs. The wood digs into our butt cheeks and our feet are slowly going numb. While tiptoeing on the awkward borders between comforting allegiances you can feel the prevailing wind, and how it cow-licks your hair persistently in one direction. Like all things disposable, free metro newspapers, popsicle wrappers and cigarette packages pile up like snow drifts into the corners of fences, and the rest of you is tempted to let itself be swept away. Instead you turn to face it, grinding your teeth to keep out the wind.

He said, “Craft is built on a devotion to a long list of masters. Art, baby—in its most ideal and contemporary form—is dedicated to perpetual abandonment.” So you left him, and for some reason he was still confused. But you were no better off, discovering that beauty is a trap, just as much as ugliness, and you can’t feel your legs anymore and so you don’t know if what you’re standing on is stable enough to hold you.

To help battle this precarious balancing act between loyalty to an established craft and avoiding the dreadful fate of referential allegiances, Tyra Tingleff ’s paintings lean shoulder to shoulder like mismatched siblings crammed into the back seat of a family road trip. Hung unconventionally close in groups of three, their proximity to each other allow them to share some covert solidarity, while stubbornly maintaining disloyalty to each other in gestural contradictions and abandoning movements. Their faces are strained, flushed with colour, lined with strokes, and are an accumulation of crucial decisions, each of them having been painstakingly deliberated. Those decisions are bound to a collection of possible, yet seemingly unavoidable painterly avenues. There are moments of flirtation with familiar strategies of abstraction, and in other instances, they are defiantly ignored, dipping into kitsch, pop, craft. These are like metaphoric rusty nails poking out of the picket fence necessitating careful navigation. And then again, a pin prick here and there lets the blood flow back into the legs so that they can feel the footing beneath them lies and where the edges of the fence are.

Tingleff works against the notion that abstraction is a visual strategy, and at no stage in the production of her paintings can the final work be predetermined. Like her title for the three largest works in the show, “When I wear a swimsuit, I just don’t swim”, one should not assume the behaviour of the paintings just because they’ve been stretched with canvas.


– Anna Szaflarski 2016

All photos by Ollie Hammick