In 1968, the National Gallery of Victoria held an exhibition of work by the new wave of artists working in a colour-field or hard-edge style, called The Field. In the late 1960s, colour-field paintings were often characterised by flat, uninflected areas of colour in abstract and generally austere designs, sometimes in three dimensions. In his two related works, Yellow screen with yellow and Black screen, Paul Partos played with the boundaries between painting and sculpture. He took the painting off the wall completely, to stand it upright in space.
Partos replaced the canvas with nylon mesh and applied colour with a spray gun. The superimposition and transparency of the mesh effected moiré patterns, articulating the surface of the works. The tall and narrow structures lacked the substance of sculpture, and colour and surface were dealt with as they are in painting. Partos’s solution produced neither sculpture nor painting but of a curious and graceful hybrid.
In the 1960s, sculptors experimented with materials not previously used in art, especially those devised for industrial and technological uses. Yellow screen with yellow is made of the most banal components, the painted wood and nylon used to make flyscreen doors, yet it is an elegant work of art, with physical beauty and commanding presence.
1 Adapted from Michael Desmond and Christine Dixon 1968 Canberra: National Gallery of Australia 1995 pp.53–55.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra