Artist: Clare Woods
Title: Deaf Man’s House
Clare Woods 'Deaf Man's House'
ISBN 10: 3-86560-144-8
ISBN 13: 987-86560-144-5
Published by Koenig Books, London, 2006
Hardback, colour illustrations.
Texts by Barry Schwabsky, Simon Wallis

Camille Pissarro is supposed to have called Claude Monet “a decorator without being decorative.” Of Jackson Pollock one might say, conversely, that his work was decorative though he was not a decorator. In either case the painter’s genius, as it methodically or fitfully revealed itself, was bound up with a needful tension between these only fugitively if at all distinguishable qualities, decorativeness and decoration. For a certain kind of painting – all the more appealing for being rare – this tension is still at work today. If it presence in Clare Woods’ work were not already clear, her new, mural-sized paintings make this obvious, for the mural is the decorative format par excellence. Decoration has two meanings: A painting is called decorative if it is superficial, if it is ornamental, if it fills a space. But the other sense of the word, the one that applies to Monet, to Henri Matisse, to Pollock, is nearly the opposite; it refers to a painting that makes space – a space that is so real that one feels it even when no one is looking at it. Matisse spoke of an “an expansive force that gives life to things around it.”

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