This exhibition of seventeen paintings made between 2001-03 was the culmination of an investigation into the possibility of narrative in abstract painting that has preoccupied Blacklock for some time, and was presented in ‘The Problem of Narrative in Abstract Painting’ at Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts on 17th April 2003.
The grand themes of abstraction, played out of abstract expressionism, meant that the relationship of the viewer to the painting was as if standing in front of a void or other such metaphysical phenomena; this relationship is challenged in this series of paintings that explore whether narrative action could take place, where one form could be seen to ‘act’ on another resulting in a responding action by the second form. Testing this hypothesis through the adoption of the fundamental narrative form found in ‘Annunciations’ (’Urban Annunciation’, diptych, 2002), Blacklock became interested in the visual manifestation of the interrelatedness of these two forms and equated these to the complexity of a relationship between two people resulting in T.I.O.R. (The Intractability Of Relationships) paintings. This attempt to ‘open up’ abstract painting away from the ‘painting as an object’ or painting as carrier of subjective angst, allowed for a more playful and varied kind of space and structure to be developed, and the generation of a pictorial space that alludes to, but is not depictive of, recessive space.
The catalogue essay, by Hugh Stoddart, examines the narratives at work in Blacklock’s paintings and relates these to narrative structures found in other creative media (literature and screenwriting in cinema). This essay was reproduced in the July 2007 edition of Mad Hatter, on-line magazine from Argentina, along with the paintings from this exhibition. Six of the T.I.O.R. paintings were exhibited in the ‘Discerning Eye’ (2004), at the invitation of the artist-selector Anita Taylor.