The Rise of Oil

Piers Secunda The Rise Of Oil


Piers Secunda makes sculptures out of paint, often constructing complex forms by carving and casting the medium in ways one would not think possible. In the spring of 2009, in search of a material which would apply the geopolitics of the real world to an abstract painting practice, Piers hit upon the idea of painting and printing his sculptures with crude oil.

Crude oil plays a fundamental role in every aspect of 21st century living, from energy and transport to agriculture and medicine, and is the main component of the world’s most frequently used material – plastic. As the world’s ultimate facilitator, Piers believes that crude oil must therefore be a contender as the ultimate artist’s material. Its presence alone speaks immeasurable volumes but it is crude oil’s ability to function as a paint and printing medium that allow it to be employed as an artistic tool. This is the area on which this exhibition focuses.

The Rise of Oil showcases a complex body of works which utilise silkscreen printing with crude oil to depict images of the early days of the oil industry. Each “fragment” sheet of cast paint has been printed with crude oil from the fields and wells which the art work depicts. These range from Baku in Azerbaijan and Spindletop in Texas to scenes of California and Colorado. After finding a photograph of Saudi Arabia’s first successful oil well, Dammam Number 7, Piers searched for two years for oil from that specific well in order to silkscreen the photograph. Eventually, the oil was found, and the resulting crude oil print tells a story of a fleeting moment in time, little known to most people, which has had a seismic effect on global politics and economics ever since.

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