John Latham’s artistic oeuvre can be described as experimental, controversial and avant-garde. Born in Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1921, Latham remains a maverick within art history, creating through painting, assemblage, as well as through performance, film and his extensive writing career. The artist began incorporating actual books into his practice in 1958, beginning a series of work he entitled ‘skoob’ (or ‘books’ spelled backwards), of which there are examples included in this exhibition.
His creative output revolved around the notions of time, consciousness and perception on a cosmological level. He sought to restore the lost relationship between the individual and the whole through his art. His Time Base theories, use of found materials and emphasis on process in action and language has provided an influential and resounding model for younger generations of artists. With his spray gun, he developed his own philosophy of time known as ‘Event Structure’ which proposes that the most basic component of reality is not the particle but the ‘least event. This new approach to form using what he called his ‘atomising paint instrument’ marked an important point in his artistic development.
John Latham’s works have recently been exhibited in the following solo presentations: A World View: John Latham, Serpentine Galleries, London, 2017 and Viva Arte Viva, 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2017. Further key exhibitions include The Art of Assemblage, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1961-62; Painting and Sculpture of a Decade, Tate Gallery, London, 1964; documenta 6, Kassel, 1977; John Latham in Focus, Tate Britain, London, 2005-6 and John Latham: Time Base and the Universe, PS1 Contemporary Arts Centre, New York, 2006.