Riley Beaumont, I’d rather come back as an Ikea catalogue (Klein and Hobbes), 2018, acrylic, enamel, varnish, and oils on canvas, 180 x 150cm. Photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Every so often, I like to put the frighteners on a lecture theatre full of art students by reading them some of Gerhard Richter’s bleaker aphorisms: ‘I have nothing to help me, no idea that I can serve in return for being told what to do … I can do nothing, I understand nothing, I know nothing. Nothing.’ Puts the frighteners on me, too, because it means that making an art work has to be some kind of exercise in sovereign knowledge, without rules, means or end. And that I have to look at an art works as a hovering, unresolvable process of becoming rather than as a done deal.
Looking at paintings like Riley Beaumont’s might take the edge off the fear. Not because he’s solved the problem, of course; art’s problems are unanswerable. But because he looks like he’s struggling in the right way, which is to say he seems comfortable with paintings that don’t have answers (and have kind of forgotten the question). There’s a lot of physical rumination layered into the paintings; they’re the kind of ‘What comes next?’ paintings that quietly do away with whatever came before. In them, I might get a tiny glimpse of what Bataille meant by ‘life beyond utility.’
Australian National Capital Artists (ANCA) Gallery
9 October – 27 October