St. Lawrence Handing out the Treasures of the Church, 2019
Oil on photocopier, toner on paper, 110 x 65 x  60cm (prints 42 x 30cm)

An oil painting is made in white on the glass of a photocopier. The work is a reimagining of Bernardo Strozzi’s 17th century religious-historical work of the same title. Papers are signed and numbered as an open edition and placed into the print trays. Viewers are invited to activate the photocopier, making their own signed print – the black on the image being made by the negative space on the painting that the photocopier’s light passes through. The photocopier as an installation is offered for sale, but the photocopy monoprints are distributed freely in a parody of the legend.

Excerpt of text by Matthew Freemantle, discussing St. Lawrence Handing out the Treasures of the Church:

‘That this and other works are in fact or appear ostensibly unfinished stems from a disregard for finality that permeates this collection and can be traced further back. Amateur Hour fleshed out an argument that achievement is subordinate to the act of the pursuit thereto. Then as now, pursuit is Lawrence’s first virtue. To arrive is to abandon pursuit, to be finished. And finished is dead.

Lawrence’s use of masterpieces as source material in the show stems from this notion. His respect for striving over finding sees prototypes as new models of thought. The creative sphere is one for experiment and testing, where new ideas and aesthetics are prototyped and test-driven before being adopted in the real world.

“When a work is considered a masterpiece it implies that an idea has been refined to the point of absolute completion and perhaps exhaustion, leaving it short of much of the vitality of the prototype.”

Lawrence’s most pointed jab at this is the work St. Lawrence Handing out the Treasures of the Church, where he treats a photocopy machine’s glass as a printing plate. Viewers of the work will be able to print out a copy of the famous scene, as artist and device stage a modern parody on the doling out of churchly treasures. The cumbersome photocopier is the artist himself, a dubious intermediary through which an original and pure thought must traverse. Repetitions mean diminishing returns. More is less.

“If art is a means by which to pay homage to inspiration it is also proof of the inability of human beings to accurately express the purity of that inspiration. The observer principle suggests that it is impossible to observe a phenomenon without changing it. Art is an interference.”’