OSU art professor Laura Lisbon on the fourth in a series of exhibitions exploring ideas around painting, on view now at Urban Arts Space

Four painters contributed to “Impermanent Durations,” but walking through the exhibition at Urban Arts Space Downtown, you won’t find labels indicating the artist or even the title of each piece.

“It's not about separating out whose is whose. It's more about taking the differences in the language in our works and the space and some things we share around ideas about time,” said Columbus artist Laura Lisbon, who collaborated on the show with artists from three other continents: Beth Harland (United Kingdom), David Thomas (Australia) and Ian Woo (Singapore).

Initially, Harland, Thomas and Woo began a series of conversations about painting that resulted in exhibitions in Australia and Singapore in 2016. In 2017, for a UK exhibition, the three artists invited Lisbon into the conversation and exhibition. And now, for the fourth iteration, Lisbon, an art professor at Ohio State University, is playing host for “Impermanent Durations: On Painting and Time (part 4),” on view at OSU’s Urban Arts Space through Sept. 21.

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It’s not just the lack of labels that sets this exhibition apart. Strolling through the space, the various pieces hang at atypical heights. Sometimes they don’t hang at all; certain pieces are affixed to the wall like stickers. Others are propped up on a ledge. In every instance, the space itself helped to determine how the paintings should be displayed.

“We're thinking about the conventions of painting. Usually they're hung at eye level, right? There's none of that here. It's relative to the architecture,” Lisbon said, and pointed to a row of large windows in the gallery. “How does this site provoke some thoughts about painting that the other sites didn't? In this particular case, there’s this bay that has windows out to the street, but we're below ground. It's almost like a film with people going by. … I hope there's some views that people discover that I don't see.”

The pieces in “Impermanent Durations,” which range from collage and projection to Xerox copies of photographs and stripes of color painted directly on the wall, all were constrained by size because they had to be shipped from all over the world. The pieces had to fit in a standard piece of luggage that could fit on an airplane.

“It's interesting to have a big space, but to have a constraint on how much you can bring,” Lisbon said. “I find that constraint really liberating.”

Each of the four painters is historically and theoretically inclined and has done some writing about painting, which gives the exhibition a cerebral, philosophical bent. But there’s also a surprising lightheartedness baked into the experience of walking through the space.

“This conversation — we mean it, you know? We're deadly serious. But it's an incredibly playful show,” Lisbon said. “It's deeply what we do to think about and make paintings, and especially abstract work. [The meaning] isn’t explicated, but I think structuring with and against each other's work and with and against the architecture starts, hopefully, to raise unexpected meanings.”