Artist research: Tacita Dean

20 July 2017. I had planned to plunge directly into the next exercise, but a sense of foreboding kept me from doing that. There was an uncomfortable feeling of not yet having done some of the research suggested by my tutor and of, just maybe, missing the essential bit of emotion to start the exercise in the right mood.

Tacita Dean (*1965, UK) was one of the first artists I was made aware of by my Drawing 1 tutor and at the same time one of those who I felt instantly akin with, not always with their artistic output, but the feel of the world they transport. While Tacita Dean primarily works as a highly original film-maker (Frith Street Gallery, n.d.), she also produces wonderful giant black and white landscape drawings and etchings. Most famous among these are “Fatigues”, a series of connected chalk drawings on black boards made in 2012 over the period of a few weeks in Germany (Art Observed, 2013). For my own work I have always loved the power of black and white, hence also my interest in shadows, but as for now I can find no additional inspiration for my ongoing work. This may of course change any instant so I decided to remain vigilant. Maybe Dean creeps into the work I do unnoticed.


Frith Street Gallery (n.d.) Bio. Tacita Dean. Frith Street Gallery, London. Available from: [Accessed 20 July 2017]
Observed (2013)

Schwartz, J. (2013) New York – Tacita Dean: “Fatigues” at Marian Goodman Gallery Through March 9, 2013. Art Observed, New York, 3 March. Available from: [Accessed 20 July 2017]


Part 1, exercise 1.3: Quick and focused

4 May 2017. Considering the amount of work required for the first two exercises in this part of the course the present one looked so straightforward that I was worried about probably having overlooked an essential instruction. But no, it was no more than three 1 minute A4 or A3 overlapping drawings, with paint, of five of my found images (Open College of the Arts, 2015, p. 41). I chose images with as much distint content as possible. One giant demolition project next to my son’s school, paragliders over a mountain top, a spirit level used when building in our front garden, a student jawning and pink-orange buildings photographed when on holiday in Curaçao a few years ago. I painted on A3 high quality watercolour paper with my Schmincke watercolours, selecting the respective dominant hue to paint with. This is the result (Fig. 1):

Figure 1. Three watercolour drawings of five overlapping found images

What I learned from the exercise was the following:

  • As expected each repetition made me more familiar with the main structural element of each photo, so I was able to place the focus increasingly on those elements I thought essential.
  • The result here is highly dynamic. Althought the photos had nothing in common initially, the identical style of painting resulted in a believable whole.
  • The overlapping elements, at least in this case, seem to create a transparent three-dimensional space, which I like to investigate. On a completely different level they exert a similar influence on me as M.C. Escher’s world-famous impossible buildings.
  • A series like this looks interesting because it is a series. It seems to be a human characteristic to want to compare and contrast. My eyes keep wandering between the paintings to see where they differ.
  • This kind of start to a project may help to set the scene, investigate a subject in a playful way and draw inspiration from.


Open College of the Arts (2015) Painting 1: Understanding Painting Media. Open College of the Arts, Barnsley.