Coffee Stain, 2004


Perspex and Acrylic Paint, 21 x 29.7 cm

The stain of coffee on a shirt was scanned and used to give the outlines for this painting (behind glass).

The coffee stain was obtained on a white T-shirt during the first day of the conference "Philosophy and Conceptual Art" at King's College, London (4. and 5. June 2004). It is part of my recent interest into the shape of stains and how they might defy the square shape of pixels and grids in the computer.

The stain is painted behind glass in order to give it an as industrial finish as possible. Interestingly, the golden paint used for the stain still carries marks of the brush (presumably because of the reflection within the gold) whereas the black appears completely flat, which creates a textual difference between the stain and the background, whilst allowing both to be on the same layer - the stain is not painted onto the background.

The motive of the 'stain' relates at least to two different movements in the history of art: Abstract Expressionism/Informel Art and the use of the body in 1980's art (Nitsch etc.) Coffee Stain, however, does not celebrate the materiality of paint or the action of the painter since it's appearance is more pop, if anything, nor does it lend the stain to a humanising (or post-human animalism), although the golden colour appears to allow for associations ('Golden Shower' etc.)

Apart from the painting behind glass that takes away the painterly surface from the piece it is the distinct framing that orients the stain within the frame - or rather, the concrete frame is a product of the stain as the stain's 'measuring device'. Coffee Stain places the stain in such a way into the frame as to optimise for its size given a certain frame. This process is taken from the way computer software sometimes frames an irregular object when the smallest possible rectangle is selected for a given shape. In this way the stain demands its space.

Coffee Stain gives importance to an actual stain as implied in the 60 Second Books or Measured Gold. It does not as the works before (like Potato Prints or Negative Light) produce amorphous shapes as colour selection within an existing image.