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The online editorial and curatorial project for systems, non-objective and reductive artists working in the UK

Website: Chestnuts Design

Interview with Richard Caldicott by Laurence Noga

July 2015

©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock  All rights reserved.

LN    The dynamic shifts in your work, between lens, painting, print and drawing, highlight an interdisciplinary approach. Is there some kind of hierarchy in those approaches that ties them together?


RC    Well, there is always kind of a series. I guess it’s a matter of working through something.


LN   So the series, in a sense, begins the conversation?


RC    I tend to work fast.


LN    You certainly generate an enormous amount of work. Can you tell me a little more about its diversity?


RC    I had a bit of a problem with the large-scale photography, in that I didn’t feel I was totally involved physically. What was happening - and still does happen - is that I would produce the transparencies and they would get sent to Germany to be scanned and made into large-format photographs, but sometimes I wouldn’t get to see the work before it got to the gallery or was sold. I really wanted to get more involved with the work. In 2009-10 I started making a lot more drawings, works on paper, inkjet printing, photograms.

LN    From what you’re showing me, the balance tipped in a slightly different direction, although the practice does seems to have significant and meaningful interactions -  or does one thing out-balance another? How do they interlock?


RC    You would like to think they interlocked. I make notes for smaller drawings and plans, which continue to generate different bodies of work. I was always much more interested in painting and sculpture.


LN    I think that comes through, in all of your work. What’s changed for you?


RC    The pace has changed since I became more interested in painting and sculpture. I am still interested in repetition and difference, but the paintings are slower; it’s a different thing for me to work at that pace.

Richard Caldicott Untitled _11 2015 Photogram and paper negative 7 x 10 inches

Richard Caldicott Untitled (9)2013 c-print 20 x 24 inches

LN   How does that pace affect the arena of colour - the  intensity and semiotic content which permeate through all your approaches? How do you make decisions around resonance and luminosity? Can you unpack some of your physical processes within the photography, painting, and collages?


RC   It’s all done with the eye really. Maybe with some of the envelope drawings there is an element of chance, because they are fed through the photocopier several times. It’s a process that’s not overly planned.


You get the layers, transparencies, and overlays of colour. The painting’s composition comes out of an interest in solid colour. In the past it’s been photography; solid translucent blocks of colour. The early series of

Tupperware works used two colour transparencies (overlapping colour), a simple still-life situation but shot twice, and then the image would be flipped, sometimes, you would get a double intensity of colour.


After the Tupperware series I spent a lot of time making collages, assembling, not showing them but making photographs of the result, using the same technique of doubling the transparency or mixing and flipping the transparencies. The photograms have been a focus in recent years because of their simplicity. I have been showing the photographic negative (paper masks) with the positive prints. I am interested in that kind of ambiguity.

Richard Caldicott Untitled_33, 1998, C-Print 50 x 40 inches

LN   That double intensity, repetition and speed of process seems instrumental in their assemblage, construction or deconstruction. Can you say a little more about the history of the work?


RC   I am interested in architecture; the way architects like Carlo Scarpa use material and space, I find intriguing. So constructional solutions and play of repetition are helped by the element of chance, that’s something that I emphasized in the ‘script’ series. That was a digital approach, pixel by pixel. The repeated grid structure and manipulation of translucent layers. Around then I was thinking about the chromatic range in the work. That process was developed through largely intuitive manipulation, and assemblage of the material blocks of colour that were photographed with a search for infinite difference in mind.


LN   The paintings and the body of your work, at its heart, seems to have a consistently geometric structure. Where does that influence come from? Is there a system-based notion embedded in the choice of structure? Adrian Heath used harmonious proportion, subdivisions, halvings, rotations…


RC   I am fascinated and absorbed by the paintings but they don’t have a specific system.



Richard Caldicott  Riff 1, 2005 C-Print  24 x 20 inches

LN   But do you think there is one building? There seem to be certain structures that you are subliminally returning to again and again. Henri Bergson talks about the divisions of duration, conceptualized as line, counted divided etc.


RC   The envelope drawings are dictated by the physical size of the shape, its edge and some measurement, and I use a bunch of stencils, so there is a semi-fix. There is always a sense of regrouping, rearrangement. But for the paintings I use masking tape, no drawing, no preconception. I know what I want, and then I kind of change it in the making. The painted white acrylic ground activates the colour. Structural repetition of certain colours, the manipulation of structural pattern, combined with shifting, fixing, and revision.


LN   The specific feeling concerning viewpoint and a sense of  in-between operates within the work, and seems to be a  mechanism for exploring space. Can you say something about that kind of legacy, which becomes closer to the  ‘sublime’ in certain conditions; has an edginess?


RC   It’s a Giacometti situation, with reference to his sitters; I have always been fascinated by him.

Richard Caldicott Untitled 3.11.14 Ballpoint pen and inkjet on 2  paper envelopes 23 x 16cm

LN   A space frame that articulates the frame, that sits outside the sitter, which keeps drawing you into the centre of the person, drawing you into their core, perhaps. Are there others?


RC   Donald Judd and Max Bill, for their sculpture, painting, graphics, and architecture. I feel the same interest with Albers in the exploration of painting and graphics. I liked the Max Bill that they had that at Annely Juda Gallery in the ‘five decades show’; I admired the choice of colours. which seem quite close to a lot of South American work. Max Bill’s relationship with some of those artists, like Lygia Clark, Helio Oiticica, Geraldo De Barros, has a massive interest for me in its approach to colour.


LN   Can you say more about that architectural idea? Perhaps   how you might bring the range of your work together in a show?


RC   I liked Robert Ryman’s show at the Haunch of Venison, a stunning show with different formats. So I would mix it up.  At a recent art fair I hung photograms with older Tupperware works, and sets of collages. In group shows I have combined the photograms, the collage and drawing.  I try to test combinations out, depending on what’s available.


At a group show at Laurent Delaye, the drawings were shown with paintings by Peter Lamb, Andrea Medjesi-Jones and Michael Stubbs, which gave the work a strange sense of scale.


LN   Is there a chance you might rest one of the processes and  let the other ones breathe a bit?


RC   No. I have just done another set of photograms. It’s a circular process, always going on at one time. If there is anywhere I am not sure what to do next it’s with the colour photography; the last series had hardly anything there (Chance /Fall 4 series) it’s what to do with that.


LN   I think that would be an ideal place to stop. Thanks Richard.

Richard Caldicott Untitled_7, 1997 C-Print 50 x 40 inches

Richard Caldicott Untitled 2015 Acrylic on canvas 12 x 10 x 3.4 inches