In the exhibition McDevitt presents new works, all of which concern the painterly gesture realized in graphic form. The large picture surfaces are typified by soft, abstract forms that move in and out of one another, giving the works a captivating, transitory expression. Some of the works include text consisting of fragments from old city and road signs that come from the artist’s earliest years living in Berlin before he knew the language. It is not the actual meaning of the words that is the important thing, but the graphic expression that the signs left at the time and which exerted a fascination on McDevitt. And indeed it is this expression, or rather the idea of leaving various imprints that has inspired McDevitt in this exhibition.
For the same reason the exhibition has the title Cave Paintings, referring to the first painterly expression in human history, the prehistoric paintings on the walls of caves. They testify that mankind has used visual expression not only to understand the world we live in better, but also to make an imprint on our existence and leave traces for the next generation – something with which we have continued ever since.
The works can thus be regarded as visual imprints made by the artist. He has left us traces that tell us something about his life and historical context, and about what fascinates and inspires him. The works can thus be viewed as large windows which on the one hand show but at the same time conceal. References to closed and abandoned shop windows in England where the glass is painted white to hide the view of the empty premises permit the works to function as snapshots of the British identity at a time of economic and political uncertainty, but are at the same time an exploration of an abstract gesture in the world of painting.
In his artistic practice McDevitt is inspired by various currents in the history of art that have wished to radicalize the traditional understanding of what a picture should do and contain. His refusal to perpetuate traditional art-historical hierarchies creates new inspiring images that focus on realities and deconstruct the myths that still adhere to the practice of painting. “I want to make an exhibition of paintings without using paint,” McDevitt explains.
Paul McDevitt (b. 1972) was born in Troon, Scotland, and graduated from the Chelsea College of Art in London in 2000. Today he lives and works in Berlin. His works are exhibited in several places nationally and internationally, and he has had several solo shows at internationally recognized galleries including Galerie Martin van Zomeren, Amsterdam; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; and Sommer & Kohl, Berlin. He is represented in several large public and private collections.