A dialogue between American artists R.H. Quaytman and Amy Sillman, as an introduction to Quaytman’s book Allegorical Decoys published by MER. Paper Kunsthalle.

24 January 2009, 7pm

“I structure my work as if I were making a library, each painting being part of a chapter. Unavoidably, the taboo idea of paintings as illustration is something I think about. My interest in illustration is connected to the pleasurable anxiety I feel in the textlessness of painting. I have, maybe unconsciously, made my pictures function as illustrations whether it be through the particular site’s history or space, illustrating what paintings do, illustrating what eyes do or illustrating the picture itself. The viewer is invited to ask any question of the picture and I guarantee there will be answers in the form of words. There will be a story – there will be a caption even if the image is abstract. These are my campaign promises. This is not to say that these words will explain the picture but rather these words are telling another story of which this painting can be seen, if one chooses, as illustrating. This alone should stabilize your vertigo. They play with the injunction against illustration as fundamentally an aid for poor readers. Illustrations are, after all, for children and illiterates.”

Amy Sillman, R.H. Quaytman’s close friend and colleague has generously agreed to join her in a conversation around the question “what do paintings want…to illustrate?”