‘DIVIDING RULES: The Line Between’ – Or, what exactly are we dealing with here?

DIVIDING RULES – The Line Between at PAPER gallery, Manchester

(A light response of sorts to ‘DIVIDING RULES: The Line Between’, an exhibition which explored the use of line in the work of ten contemporary artists, whose process-driven practices are motivated by the tension between certainty and chance. Curated by Bella Easton, presented by PAPER.)


Polar opposites within each other’s pocket; what is chance without order, order without chance?

The most radical creative act exists at the mercy of the conservative back-catalogue it kicks against, separated from which all meaning drains away.

The instinctive pleasure of aesthetic resolution and compositional harmony follow suit, as soon as the looming threat of chaos is dissolved.

These cosmic forces are symbiotic sisters, as much as arch enemies (like all sisters, after all).

They are the life-force of life. They provide the rhythm.

Rules exist to be broken.

A tidy desk is a tidy mind, from where the stream of messy freedom can unfurl. (Though minds are never neat.)

A painting that can be fully explained is a dead painting. A gesture without meaning is not dance.

DIVIDING RULES: The Line Between is an attempt to sit with this dichotomy. To set it free and observe its essence. To balance precariously along its thin stretch of thread. Along the delicate, rhubarb-and-custard strips of Alice Anderson’s Object Portrait, or the knife-edge rim of the rapeseed-horizon-and-shocking-blue-bar in Tiny Domingos’s Blue Bar + Red ball + Yellow Field.

It lingers in the mind-bending optical illusion of Jane Harris’s Orbiters 10, where mechanical pencil and elliptical templates result in organic oscillations and sensual play. And traverses the austere angles of Biggs & Collings’ Collage II for study for Out of Heaven, in which rigid divisions give birth to overall flow – a result of the artists’ intuition rather than mathematics or preplanning.

Most of all, perhaps, it resides in the florid curls and curves of Bella Easton’s Anaglypta series – steeped (for me at least) in latent echoes of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and the teetering line between order and madness.

Explore the works presented within the exhibition and read PAPER’s interview with Bella Easton here.

Words by Sara Jaspan

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