Noel Ivanoff’s digit paintings are so called because he makes them (in part) by dragging his finger through wet paint. What better to stand for authenticity, individuality, expression and inspiration than this “touch”. Ivanoff applies a succession of layers of paint, each brushed laterally onto a prepared plywood support. Then he repeatedly pulls his finger through the surface of the final layer of wet paint, first an up-stroke, then down, working his way incrementally across the surface from right to left. Each stroke reveals something of the dry paint layer underneath, unearthing its timbre. To achieve straight vertical bands, Ivanoff attaches a vertical wooden strut, hooked over the top of the work, and runs his finger along its edge. He “sculpts” or “ploughs” the paint, leaving a channel, the concavity of which depends on the consistency of the paint and the pressure applied. Likewise, the ridges that form at the edges of the channels may be more or less raised. Within each band, repeated over and over, yet minutely varied, is a fine chiaroscuro, a subtle shift in the density of the paint produced by the rounded and slightly tilted end of the artist’s finger. In their interaction with the horizontal striations in the paint formed by the bristles of the brush, the vertical bands establish a delicate, discrete pattern – a grid, mesh or weave. The collaboration of body and tool results in a “touch” that is finely balanced between order and variability, gesture and restraint.
From Edward Hanfling, Touch, Value and Ivanoff: Digit Paintings, 2022