Suture, suture / Beyond stretcher and primer
Raw and unbound textile surfaces are not uncommon materials in today’s painting and
art practices. However, for several centuries, they were banned and not considered
painting supports; the stretched and primed canvas was the exclusive paradigm in
Western painting. This changed in the 1950s and 1960s, when artists questioned the two
crucial components of what had been the dominant format for over four hundred years:
the stretcher and the primer.
The removal of the stretcher and the primer was a radical gesture. As such, it had a
major impact on the creation and the history of art of the second half of the 20th century,
so much so that it still resonates in contemporary art practices. The question I aim to
examine in my research project thus reads as follows: during the second half of the 20th
century, once the canvas was liberated from frame, stretcher and primer, what were the
newfound liberties the removal of the stretcher and the primer opened up? And do these
liberties still foster new artistic inquiry by contemporary artists? If so, how and in what
Artists working today play with these acquired possibilities; to incorporate these in their
work does not have the same meaning as it had in the 1960s. Nonetheless, the physical
and technical consequences of the absence of the stretcher and the primer remain
With the project Suture, suture, I propose three groups of interrelated works: betadine
drawings, hardened gauze entrapped in betadine and stained textiles. The first is an
ensemble of liquid drawings on bed covers, made around my body: they simulate a
process of liquefaction of the body. The point of departure is the permeability of the body;
the human body is porous and inevitably leaves traces where it has passed, on all types
of surfaces and particularly on textiles. Bodily fluids continuously mark the fabrics that
surround us in daily life.
In the second group of works on gauze, the betadine takes the form of hardened and
dark – almost black – matter formed by its plasticization. This plasticization creates a kind
of crust and enables the possibility to mould the malleable fabric or to simulate the
formation of imprints in the fabric.
The third group comprises of diverse textiles that bear familiar traces, such as sweat, that
have coloured or transformed the fabric. They are presented as paintings – whether they
are found textiles or have been made. The aim is to show these stained surfaces which
occur in daily life as paintings and state that painting(s) happen(s) all around us, all the
time. When we perspire, when we spill, when our clothes are in contact with any type of
slightly liquid substance: every time textile surfaces absorb elements from their
environment, a form of painting occurs.
Hannah de Corte est doctorante en Art et sciences de l’art à l’ENSAV-La Cambre / ULB – co-promoteurs Denis De Rudder et Thierry Lenain – et boursière FNRS.