'Disruption of the Inscription' by Joe Norris

Joe Norris is a contemporary artist from the UK currently completing a Masters degree in Fine art at the University of Northampton. Joe's current studio practice aims to "address the concepts of ‘removal’ and ‘fragmentation through a facsimile and simulacra based enquiry into historical paintings and the photograph". This can be shown through his 'Disruption of the Inscription' series.


(Inscription: Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job ben Solomon) by William Hoare,1733)

Oil On Canvas



Joe is predominantly a painter working in the medium of oil paint, exploring the possibilities of how photographs convey meanings.


"Photographs have always intrigued me, not just as a reference for a purely information based resource but as a medium that although flat and homogenous, depending upon what form of photography you use - there seems to always be a certain luminosity that inhibits a ‘reflexive’ quality and perspective upon consideration of the surface. This very apparentness of the photograph intrigued me to look further, beyond the homogenous surface and into how a similar sensibility could be replicated or re-materialised within the platform of a painting".


Joe's investigation goes beyond the photographic surface, creating a conversation between the materiality and paint. Behind the blurred and distorted surface of his paintings lies

"a complexity of digital and analogue methods of distortion and correction; although achieving a photographic simulacra of surface, the works also look towards the ‘objective viewer".


"The idea of the ‘phygital’ (physical & digital) has always seemed to intrigue me; not just as a concept connecting the infinite and the flat, with something physical and viscous, but as a discourse and platform to open-up and question the object of the photograph and the final surface of my paintings".


Joe reassures that in his work there is a 'sustained sense of layered reality' between the moment he recreates the analogue photograph. Using the method of projection manipulation and his method of restating ‘blemishes’ within the surface.

Reflexivity of Time and Surface Beyond the Inscription -

(Inscription: Sir Anthony van Dyck, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, 640)


During the creation process, Joe's mark-making includes ghostly traces - also referred to as ‘blemishes’. The application of 'blemishes' questions and considers the concept of ‘indexicality’ within painting. This term is seen within the field of semiology and looks towards the idea of a physical sign or trace left by an absent representamen, i.e. an object. However, Joe takes this concept and relates it to his own left behind trace.


"“The premise of this concept, situated through the thoughts most objective viewers experience standing in contemplation of great masterpieces, mirrors my own. For example, as I have experienced time and time again, standing before the likes of a Rembrandt, Ruben, or Caravaggio, although frozen in time they still resemble the marks, traces or brushstrokes of an absent artist.”

Joe examines past artworks to dissect and explore this concept."I look towards the past, only in order to break open the present day, thus, break open and fragment the objective viewer standing before my own work".


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