Abstract art has caused many discussions on the criteria of art’s evaluation and the issue of its commodification. Thus, the phenomenon of collecting art as a practice of contemporary consumeristic society drew the attention of the painter Ted A Gillespie.
Despite an avalanche-like development of digital commodities, the consumption mentality is still neatly tied to the material scope of an object, as we expect it to possess specific dimensions, volume and surface quality. That’s why, for the last 70 years, much of the art world has resisted the depersonalized commodification of art. A few strategies have served that purpose, from dematerializing art via performative practices to using degradable substances or unconventional materials.
For his series Consumption, along with the mediums that are acknowledged as professional (e.g., acrylic paint and pastel), Ted has used materials that he characterizes as “discarded” and “overlooked”: coloured pencil, chalk, house paint, and spray paint. For sure, this transparent gesture is directly connected with the idea of sustainability and fighting against the constantly present urge to buy and consume, translated by contemporary society. One can think of the parallels with Robert Rauschenberg’s or Franz Kline’s compositions, made with commercial house paint, or Anselm Kiefer’s experiments with mixing oil, photography and sand.
However, the lush visuality attracts Ted to working with those materials in the first place. The artist describes his process in the series as “mass on top of mass,” as he applied up to 10 layers of pigments over the base. The surface of the featured pieces seems intertwined with splashes and thread-like strokes of paint that create a sense of softness and depth. This effect is amplified with the elaborated palette, where the profound black background accompanies the delicate colours. The artist doesn’t attempt to control the outcome while working on a piece. He appreciates entering the dialogue with the material, in which the latter isn’t a subject, but a partner, with its own character and dynamics.
Ted A Gillespie is a visual artist based in St Louis, Missouri, U.S. Born in 1957 in Hammond, Indiana, USA, he graduated from the American Academy of Art, where he studied watercolour under Irving Shapiro, and the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale. He also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Naturology from the American Institute of Holistic Theology. His paintings have been purchased for private collections across the U.S., from North Carolina to California. Besides being a painter, Ted is also an activist, advocating for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases.
Ted A Gillespie is the Bronze Artist of the ArtAscent Abstract call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Abstract issue.