GARY DEIRMENDJIAN ‘incidentally so …’ at the National Art School 

October 18, 2023

Gary Deirmendjian’s ‘incidentally so …’ will be on show at the National Art School Library from September 2023 onwards. The exhibition features a collection of salvaged table tops that have served for decades at the school’s painting studios.

The artist says: “Some years ago, when working with stone, I began to find deep satisfaction in asking the material to chip or split, rather than dominating it with heavy-handed power tools. I began seeing this as a notion of true collaboration … between medium and maker, between intent and allowance. There has ever since been a gradual and demonstrable shift in my work towards the appreciation of actuality, of chance, the incidental, the haphazard, impermanence and the momentary. Such notions are now permanent guests that intervene as they please, enticing, motivating and helping shape what I do.

Along the way, I’ve been developing a broad collection of ‘arrived at’ things. Made things that have over time been marked, shaped or scarred incidentally and unconsciously, through the direct friction of human use/interaction. These are uncontrived propositions where no conscious consideration, decision or judgement whatsoever has been invested in their arrival. They have quite simply become, and as such exude a certain look and feel that I term ‘The Aesthetics of Nil Intent’: a strange thing for a maker to confess, that the incidental is an infinitely more interesting shaper than them.

I came across these tabletops on campus at NAS several months ago, all still attached to their stands and stacked haphazardly next to the skip bin. To landfill is where they were headed. They instantly became the focus of my attention. I found myself pulling them out of the stack and contemplating their arrival. In the course of their use as support devices in painting studies at NAS, countless anonymous collaborators had over many years contributed their unconscious marks and scars in composing the individual palimpsest of each desktop. Each is a living testament to their own arrival. Pure nuggets of truth is just how I saw them. The idea of them no longer being became unpalatable, so here they are still being within the context of their birthing.”

Deirmendjian is a sessional Sculpture lecturer at NAS, working predominantly in public/shared space. He is broadly recognised for his keen eye that scrutinises the contemporary landscape and creates thought provoking and socially concerned works challenging scale and immersive qualities.

Image caption: Gary Deirmendjian, ‘untitled 2’, 2023, 58 x 58 cm

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