New paint helped artist rediscover joy of canvas

Painter Giuseppe Albi has always loved to experiment with materials and play with artistic practices as he creates his large-scale abstract works.
Last fall, when Jim Hayes, technical director at Golden Artist Colours, dropped off 13 litres of a new paint just out of the laboratory to sample, the Edmonton artist was in painter-nerd seventh heaven.
Realizing that most painters would work on canvas with this new paint, Albi temporarily stopped painting on the white plastic sheets he’d been using as a substrate for several years. To his amazement, he rediscovered his deep love for canvas-based painting and old-school abstract expressionist image-making.
“I also discovered that I could apply many of the techniques I’d developed working on the plastic substrate to works I was painting on canvas,” says Albi. “I was pouring paint more as well as moving it around with the trowel, working more with smooth flat surfaces and had a different attitude towards the edge of the work. Also, work on canvas dries so much faster, which is important for me because I don’t always have that much time to paint.”
Shifting back to a more tried-and-true Golden paint line, Albi decided to paint a series of work on stretched canvas. Called “Colours,” this body of work is on display at the Peter Robertson Gallery.
Q: How important are innovations in paint, pigments and materials to the painters?
A: In every period of painting history, from the cave painters experimenting with different natural pigments to the move from fresco painting to board and canvas, technology has always been very much a part of making art. In fact, art is based on the materials at use at any given time. Acrylic paints and visible brush strokes are very much a part of painting now in a way they weren’t in the past. …
Q: How important is experimentation to your artmaking?
A: It’s very, very important. For me, it’s all about exploring different kinds of combinations, different ways of moving paint around and different compositions. This is about blending technologies and jumping out of the box. If you think about it, there isn’t that long of a tradition for abstract expressionist painting, so you have to work at finding new things to do, new vocabularies, all the while staying true to that tradition. It’s about trying to find ways to expand the vocabulary of colour. …
Q: I really like the way this “travel” pigment looks so different up close and farther away. It’s like looking at two different paintings.
A: It’s a very important function of this kind of paint. I like the fact that you have both a strong distant and closeup visual appeal. It should break down to one or the other.

Source: Gilbert Bouchard, The Edmonton Journal 2009