Contemporary artist David Spriggs has, for over a decade now, been mastering his chosen medium for making artwork. Spriggs works heavily with acrylic paint on plastic and ‘His works tread neatly along an unusually blurred frontier between sculpture and painting, greeting viewers with an all encompassing vision that powerfully touches on the ethereal‘ (Starr, 2013).
Sprigg’s work is hugely expansive too, many being made up of hundreds of large sheets of acrylic, layered upon each other and toying with our vision- Stratachrome for example.
Spriggs told Visual News:
“My method uses both painting and sculpture. I found that painting had certain qualities that allowed me to represent certain concepts, and sculpture allowed others, yet each method had their own inherent limitations. I wanted to find a way that I could paint in the space between the two and three dimensions in order to bring new ideas and ways of seeing. It lead me to develop a new type of space in which I could represent what I find most fascinating: the notion of the immaterial form.” (Starr, 2013).
Sprigg’s work certainly does play around with how we see it, within each layer his work appears to gain mass and take on a physical, three dimensional form as if it is somehow living within its own confines.
“In 1999 I developed an original system of painting onto layers of either transparent film or glass and hanging them specifically through space. I refer to these works as stratachromes, meaning layers of colour. For the last 13 years I have used transparency as an important conceptual device and as a material in my work to explore the relationship between perception, space, the immaterial form, colour, and the symbolism of power. My techniques of making my installation artworks emerged alongside my interest in these subjects and in my practice of painting and sculpture. At the time I developed the first stratchromes, nobody else I knew of had done anything that explored the potential of transparent layering to represent form in space. The closest thing to the layering system was found in science with the cross-sections of the human body project, and in design with the layering process of CNC machines. Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage had made some works with layers of printed glass but these focused on different concepts. The result of my experiments was interesting as I could create ‘immaterial’ forms in new hybrid space between 2 and 3 dimensions. I was excited by the possibilities of the medium and intended from the start to make work on a large scale. It took a lot of testing with materials to develop a system that gave any results, and almost 10 years to reach the large scale I wanted. Each artwork I produce requires very different techniques to achieve the results I want. The technique always follows the subject, the most important element of the work.” (Starr, 2013).
Although the scale of Sprigg’s work is powerfully humbling it only goes some way in dispelling the sense of delicacy that I was experiencing within my own work in transparency. The outer layers of acrylic act as a container, keeping and stabilising what we perceive to be a three dimensional object in existence, as if it would dispensary should it ever get chance to escape. This use of space plays with the viewers own imagination, we question why the forms are trapped in stasis. We are captivated and unable to look away, we then form the ‘how’s and ‘why’s surrounding the objects but we cannot contain them in stasis. It is our own fault, we maintain our stare at the objects and the longer we do the greater the chance for the object to slip away as we step to the side and ruin the illusion for ourselves.
Check out a video of Sprigg’s work here: https://vimeo.com/19453267
Starr, B. (2013) Immersive 3D paintings on layers of transparent film: An interview with artist David Spriggs. Available at: https://www.visualnews.com/2013/09/25/immersive-3d-paintings-layers-transparent-film-interview-artist-david-spriggs/ (Accessed: 30 August 2016).