Brian Fay (2011-2014)

My drawing practice and research examines the materiality of pre-existing artworks and considers their complex relationship to time and entropy. The ongoing intention of my practice is to register and map the effect time has on the materials, surfaces and supports of key iconic paintings. This work is predicated on the proposition that an artwork’s relationship to time is plural, that it can be seen as operating outside of a particular moment. Rather than considering an artwork operating solely with a singular temporal continuity my work draws from a growing body of anachronic studies that places an artwork within a multi-temporal context. This plurality of temporal states and understanding is heightened during the act of conservation itself

Most recently my drawings have focused on and responded to restoration work carried out on the paintings of Johannes Vermeer. I use imagery and techniques from the conservation and restoration of paintings to act as the source for my work. In so doing my artwork takes account of the history of painting and seeks to make visible the conservation and restoration practices which inform our understanding of these original paintings.

My interest in paper is based in its illusionistic role as a space that can ignite the marks of the drawing. In my recent work the blank spaces in my drawings have acted as an absent signifier of the original painting. In this sense I am interested in how the paper acts as both a visual presence that can contain that which is drawn, and equally allude to an absence of that which is not depicted.

My drawings are intended to act as records of the gradual deterioration of original artworks and cultural artefacts. These drawings present a framework for a reflection on the role that time plays in mediating our understanding of image creation, the preservation of a paintings unstable form and the making visible of the artworks own histories.

Brian is currently carrying out his PhD project, “States of Transience in Drawing Practices and the Conservation of Museum Artworks.”


Research published on the following sites:

Header image: ‘3 stages of restoration work from 1960 in non-chronological order – Girl with a Pearl Earring c. 1665- 1667’, pencil on paper, 42 x 36 cm, 2011.