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It’s a funny thing, the way a word reaches you at the right moment. The day after speaking to artist Lydia Gifford, the word “anoesis” arrived in my email inbox, courtesy of a “word of the day” newsletter to which I’m subscribed. “Anoesis: A state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content.” I forwarded the email to Gifford immediately.
The word seemed appropriate to Gifford because pure sensation or emotion is what she attempts to conjure with her art. A painter who works in three dimensionsfour, if you count timeand who incorporates rough materials such as wood and mud into her pieces, Gifford says that the impetus behind the pieces she creates in her studio in Hackney is to capture the experience of memory. “I guess I’d say I’m interested in the way memories dissolve, and how frustrating it can be, trying to grasp them,” she explains. “Usually, what I’m trying to create is, maybe, memory as physical residue. Dust on a ledge. The space between things.”
Given that theme, it’s fitting that much of Gifford’s work has a temporary aspect. The installation she made for last year’s Art Basel, for instance, was created on-site; as she recalls, she took the raw elements to Basel, and then defined the piece in the space where it was to be shown, once she’d arrived.
“What I think of as my real achievement,” she notes, “was that I used this very public environment to create something intimate. Intimate and slight. Basel is sort of the antithesis of that,” she adds. “It encourages the monumental. But I wanted to make something people could feel close to. Work that was kind of…vulnerable.”
The flip side of creating work for one moment, of course, is that the work disappears when the moment is gone. That’s all to the good inasmuch as Gifford concerns herself with atmosphere and fleetingness of feeling, but it sets up a conundrum in terms of her career. In some ways, Gifford’s challenge, on a macro level, as an artist, echoes the challenge she poses to herself in the practice of her art itself: How do you make something stay?
“The battle for me,” she acknowledges, “is figuring out how to leave things behind.”
~ Maya Singer
Lydia Gifford opens her new solo show, Midday, on January 27th at the David Roberts Arts Foundation in London.
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|Master Size (IT)||36||36.5||37||37.5||38||38.5||39||39.5||40||40.5||41|
|ITALY / EU||IT/EU||36||36.5||37||37.5||38||38.5||39||39.5||40||40.5||41|
|UK||6 5⁄8||6 3⁄4||6 7⁄8||7||7 1⁄8||7 1⁄4||7 3⁄8||7 1⁄2||7 5⁄8||7 3⁄4||7 7⁄8|
|US||6 3⁄4||6 7⁄8||7||7 1⁄8||7 1⁄4||7 3⁄8||7 1⁄2||7 5⁄8||7 3⁄4||7 7⁄8||8|
|Inches||21 1⁄4||21 5⁄8||22||22 1⁄2||22 3⁄4||23 1⁄4||23 5⁄8||24||24 1⁄2||24 3⁄4||25 1⁄4|