Sean Cummins makes drawings using paint on paper, on board and walls. Sean is a resident studio artist at One Thoresby street, Nottingham, UK.


Key words...


spatial immersion, rules... constraints, emptiness... the void, collapse... running, contiguity, howl and losing oneself...



Statement for One Thoresby Street exhibition, March 2012


Thank-you to Emily Mowatt and Brendan Curtis-Brown for their colaboration in performing 'The Operating Manual'. Also thanks to Dorothy Fu, Jake Kent and Millie Poulter for their assistance in making the wall painting.


‘To work with a plan which is pre-set is one way to avoid subjectivity.’

Sol LeWitt, Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, Sept. 1967


Sometimes I give others and myself pre-set instructions to make drawings. This is an attempt to make so-called ‘expressive’ work outside of an individual subjectivity. A typical set of instructions for a drawing has 5 operations to be performed in sequence with variations from expressive to ruler straight lines. Normally in these works a team operates on each drawing so that more than one person’s ‘expressive’ hand can be seen in the work.

I am interested in how drawings can represent and /or be a state of spatial immersion. By this I mean the collapse of space between subject (myself) and object (the drawing).

This collapse can occur between the maker and the art object through a meditative form of fabrication. In his ‘Lecture on Nothing ‘(1949) John Cage said “I have nothing to say/ and I am saying it/ and that is poetry/ as I need it”. For me it is within this ‘nothing’ that the distance between the object and the fabricator collapses. Through a series of operating instructions my work attempts to convey the condition of aphasia, of someone who is unable to prioritise the language that surrounds them as they attempt to draw an interior. In making my drawings also I start with a set of operating instructions or conditions. The conditions control and make the work releasing it from the anxiety of its own creation.

Twenty years ago I had a studio critique of my work with Clement Greenberg who described the drawing within my painting as “doo-hickey”. I think that he found in my work un-necessary and overly complicated drawing. I have embraced this “doo-hickey” ness as a kind of perverse act.  I now write instructions for others as well as myself to make overtly decorative works.

At the centre of my enquiry is a questioning of subjectivity and authorship. I am fascinated by the relationship between an edge and a form, between drawing and painting, between myself and others.

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