Remote-ism: An Introduction to Painting & Resistance

Keith Hopewell & Nikki Goldup

10 – 20th December 2020, Hoxton Gallery, London


‘One is no longer in a history of art or a history of forms. They have been deconstructed, destroyed. All that remains to be done is play with the pieces’


Jean Baudrillard


At the crux of this new exhibition, is a short process film shot by Nikki Goldup, featuring Keith Hopewell Painting a large blank canvas, laid flat on the ground, wearing a mask, gloves & protective clothing. The black paint being applied is unusually transmitted by the rolling of an oversized aerosol moving back & forth.  This leaves tracks and over-spray wherever this ‘vehicle’ traverses. It is an oxymoron of both calculation & unpredictability that allows the composition to fall into place, until the container is left emptied of its contents. This sort of hands-free painting technique, along with the ritualist dance-like quality of his working process, evokes an eerie feeling of absence & presence, reminding us of our experience living in the strange new reality formed by the pandemic.

Over two floors of the Hoxton Gallery, (a newly built contemporary building, which almost resembles an outdoor display cabinet), there is a curated selection of monochrome paintings completed by Hopewell over the last few years. A few of the works are from a series created on the grounds of Sir Antony Gormley’s house in rural Norfolk, whilst Keith was living there in 2019. The more recent works were painted this summer over the first lockdown period, at a barn in rural Suffolk. No stranger to life in isolated environments, Hopewell operates in liminal time, using his autonomous performative painting practice as part of his socially distanced daily exercise.

Nikki Goldup’s contribution to the exhibition space, is a forensic investigation of the traces & artefacts left by Hopewell’s practice, including discarded canvas tests, wood off-cuts, horsehair & the empty protective suit worn by Keith during the making of the paintings. Here Nikki explores object-language & hyper-textual relationships, responding to Keith’s process & methodology, opening new lines of enquiry & interpretation. 

The question concerning both artists is, what is art today & how do we approach it in response to the global crisis & the way in which we have been redirected into digital space?’

To quote Mark Fisher;

‘It’s the very decadence of freedoms attributed to us by our access to the internet, that remove the capability to influence any real change to the dynamics that create the conditions for making the work in the first place.’

This exhibition is about working in flux & the democratisation of historically stigmatised mediums. By focusing on the performative elements of painting and art making as a lived experience, the artists believe this is the only real route towards the true essence of why we make art.

Extension & Motion

March – April 2017, Galerie Celal M13, Paris

“How far can one’s hand stretch out, until it reaches the edge of reality?”


Extension & Motion, is the first solo exhibition in France by British born artist Keith Hopewell, exploring the boundaries of contemporary colour language in an age of digitisation, through a new series of gestural paintings. Each work is conceived with a minimalist palette of either two or three colours, as Keith physically obliterates each surface with the bombardment of primal marks, ultra fine lines, points and chromatic luminosity, building up morphic fields transmitting at different spatial frequencies. Hopewell’s past work is predominantly about the transformation of materials, and sound whilst, allowing the process of activity and performative elements to become visible, through a synthesis of deconstruction/re-arrangement of surface and object. Notable work includes his reality charged pieces, where he incorporated painting with sculptural objects, such as steel security fences, and wire mesh, to re-orientate us and affect our perception, due to the parallax nature created by the two planes. In this new show, Hopewell’s use of interspersed colour invokes physiological effects, and time delays, through the use of subjective colour, simultaneous and successive contrast, and also the assimilation effects of Von Bezold, where the multitude of point and line is worked across the compositions at high and low spatial frequencies.

There is some reflection back to Hopewell’s earlier interest in digital printer marks and CMYK, but the work in this exhibition appears to be more about the human touch, and the performative elements of pain- ting, in an era described by Rosalind Krauss as being a post-medium condition. In an attempt to understand such a condition, Hopewell’s objective here, is to find solutions that enable painting to reach out beyond itself, and establish a self-redefinition to determine where the edge is, or locate a central nexus, in the midst of today’s massive image circulation. To question paintings specificity, in a search to find any new sustainability for such a medium, is to flow off this tension and try to both regulate or de-regulate it, by embracing painting as performative time. What we are seeing here, is the residue of events, the echoes of action and refraction, linger like the absent colours that merely exist objectively for the eye only.

For Hopewell, the essence in the act of painting is located in the movement of the body, in the stretching out of the hand, to commu- nicate his internal mental cognition onto the fabric of the external landscape. A sort of turning outward, what is not visible at the begin- ning of the process. If painting can mark time, then each mark here seemingly cancels out time. In the liminal moment resulting from the repetitive application of line upon line, he is able to deliver an explicit level of accuracy of straight vectors, not normally achievable by a hand in motion. In fact, the use of the spray medium in these works, questions the very idea of human touch, due to the anamorphic na- ture of spray, and its release of pressurised paint through a valve system. Theres a sort of refraction at work in his ritualistic process, like an unknowable reality, passing obliquely through the interface between one medium and another. This direct presence of activated mind architecture, resonating from the body to form a composition on the flat plane, echoes George Berkeley’s notion; “Nothing can exist without a mind to perceive it, the external world must exist within the mind of god.” Along with the harmony and contrast of spatial colour interspersions, this exhibition is really about reaching a point of purity, a sensory or meditative experience, where we can interpret painting with what he believes has the possibility of outliving itself at future points in time.

‘Locke & Descartes became convinced that the knowledge that comes to us through the senses is deceptive. Behind what we perceive as colours, sounds, and odours, nothing exists but extension & motion. Or at least, the substance of reality was believed to lie therein…’

Claude levi-Strauss


January 2015, Hoxton Gallery, 9 Kingsland Road, London 

VAVA Records are excited to invite you to experience Keith K. Hopewell’s new sound installation ‘Broken Systems In C Major’, and the launch of his inaugural LP entitled ‘Chaoid Systems’. This installation incorporates surface deconstruction, film and sound, bringing together, disciplines perhaps not seen until now. Hopewell is a renowned practitioner with the spray-can related medium under the pseudonym Part2ism, for his radical and unorthodox approaches to art in public space. Keith has also recorded critically acclaimed material for the Big Dada / Ninja Tune label, working with artists such as, New Flesh, Rammellzee. Blackalicious, Saul Williams, Roots Manuva, Anti-Pop and Blackalicious.

Broken Systems is a reductive spatial piece, focusing on the effects of low sound frequencies on the human body, as the viewer becomes a vibrational string being stretched and plucked inside an echoic chamber. On the wall of chamber entrance is a large projection of Spray painted surface remnants, forensically removed from the concrete of a historical London graffiti wall. The fragments appear to be reacting to the sound resonance, returning back to the aerosols natural anamorphic state. The fluctuant panning of the camera somehow creates impressions of landscapes and coastlines viewed from the air. As a clear division of space between image and sound become apparent, a purely sensual experience of instability begins to unfold.

“It’s both the slow rumble of structural damage happening in real time and the distilled essence of anticipation. Heart thumping, you open the door, and – – – shine. You’re swallowed into a moment of harmonic richness, pressure, rhythm and possibility. As a piece of art, it’s designed to create a powerful experience of sensory disorientation, and it’s at work long before you actually find it. Pumping a perpetually transposed one bar bass sub- wave into a blackened sound chamber, you, the subject, stand inside, at first hugging the wall, unable to tell whether you’re in a space four feet by two or 40 by 20. There’s a lurking discomfort you might be about to commit an accidental invasion of somebody else’s intimacy. Deprived of vision, you’re forced to listen, as they say, as if under a microscope. This is sound decomposed to its rudiments: a single frequency that your body physically resonates. It builds, darting through different spatial registers, becoming momentarily overwhelming, then eddies back to nothing. Your brain, looking for sugar, tricks you into finding shadow melodies.” James McNally (From the sleeve notes of ‘Chaoid Systems’)