Objects of Non-Object Art
The process of “reduction” or “devolution” in advanced twentieth century art is reviewed by the artist Eric Cameron. Beyond the “ultimate” identical square black paintings of Ad Reinhardt in the 1960s, the “conceptual” art of Sol LeWitt and others in the early 1970s resulted in “the dematerialisation of the art object” (Lucy R. Lippard, 1973). Long associated with the Lithography Workshop at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Eric Cameron will discuss how such “non-object” artists, working with master-printers, were embodying their ideas in material forms.
Following studies in painting at the University of Durham and in art history at the Courtauld Institute of London, Eric Cameron taught for ten years at Leeds University before moving to Canada in 1969.
While teaching at the University of Guelph from 1969 to 1976, the Process Paintings he had begun in England gave way to a variety of “conceptual” modes, of which his video work remains the most significant residue. In the same period his critical writing started to appear in Canadian, British and American magazines.
At Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, where he taught from 1976 to 1987 and was director of the MFA program, Cameron began his Thick Paintings, which involve layering thousands of coats of acrylic gesso over everyday objects with some significance to the artist, until either the work is purchased or Cameron is physically unable to pursue the task. He continued with these after taking up his present position at the University of Calgary in 1987, then transitioning into his Dipped Paintings from 2009 on. His major installations are customarily accompanied by speculative commentary in book form.
Eric Cameron is a major contributor to conceptual art in Canada, both as a practitioner and as a theorist, and his work is represented in museum collections across the country. He was the recipient of a Governor General’s Award in 2004 in Visual and Media Arts, and was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2008, as well as being a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He is represented by Trépanier Baer Gallery, Calgary.
Interview with Eric Cameron made in 1993 during the presentation of his exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.