Forty four works of art, the oldest Abstract Painting 81 by Charles Walsh is a replay of sensitivity to shades of black, an ability to recognise quite a multitude of black shades noted by F. Engels among the workers in chemical industry. I compared once the Walsh’s mastery to graduate the hue to a whisper in a nursery. It also ages remarkably well, while turning into a classic.
The installation is airy, “minimalist”, allowing the privacy between the viewer and the viewed, not on offer in most current exhibitions of visual art. The images do not rain on you, do not jostle for an aura, even if some were given preference for taller visitors. That little speck above the row of three, is a small Seed of painting by Natalia Black. It is her autograph, pastose layers of paints dragged across a thought of composition. She is not alone in preferring this specific technique for its power to define an image by pushing out the ground and instances. I came across three more painters who are devotees.
Conrad Jon Godly applies impasto to mountains on large scale to reveal their “spirit”.
Iranian Salman Khoshroo ( https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2016/12/enormous-palette-knife-portraits-and-figures-by-salman-khoshroo/) had made white on white series, switching now to hot hues charged with defining male nudes. Joseph Lee (http://www.josephleeart.com) prefers portraits whose anatomy is masked by forces of emotion.
Downstairs, a tiny Spiral Star by Dan Shipsides silently plays hide and seek well above the eye level, while the large Rattler and Badass by Ronnie Hughes command the whole space and attention with support of seven smaller paintings. Small format is favoured by many, by Fionnuala D’Arcy, whose paintings appear both here and upstairs.
Rigorous process feeds the variations on sensuality of the sameness of the format – akin to a musical fugue. The attention to the medium allows the sense of atmosphere to engulf sharp edges of angular forms. I deliberately avoid to identify these images as made by female or male artist. Instead, I hope the viewer to engage with it, with the painting, not with the maker, as is the habit in this culture. “In 2018, male artists created 95 percent of the total value of art sold at major auction houses across the world. And from 2008 to 2018, only 11 percent of the artworks actually bought by major American museums were by women. The art world can posture but, where it counts, less is changing than it might seem, because the underlying idea of the Artistic Genius maintains its hold.”
Peter Burns prefers similarly hot palette to stretch, ambulate and contort his busy landscape.
Scenic elements hide a seek on a diaphanous layered surfaces of David Crone‘s paintings. David Feely intoxicates the rule of right angle with letting the observed to hover between figuration and abstraction.
Tender delight with details keeps them mischievously playing hide and seek with meaning, date and technique in the page manquee below.
When abstraction borrows enigmatic quality from an imagined story or performance, it contaminates itself with a narrative. The freedom of choice is left with the viewer’s imaginative habits.
Holding the imagination to revoke the real, is often assisted by illusion of space, depth, here between the figure absorbed in contemplation of the cloud and its reflection in the water while that illusion is targeted by the red tree. It is poetic to the point of sweet illusion, perhaps hence the smirking right angle to subvert it a little.
Shrinking the world to a table op scale is a pre-eminent part of growing up while playing, or playing while growing up. The value of play for cognitive powers is well understood but not often respected. Art has the eternal power to object on its behalf.
Visual art shrinks not from being decorative while it distances itself from similarity with the observed.
If only rarely, the fear of the end of the world visits people every so many hundreds of years – and the humanity’s impact on nature at present triggers our take on it. The metaphor of darkness, of a night for end of life is not out of date yet.
As if not facing the predicted impact of people on nature, art still potently flirts with freedom of thought, be it as a nod to predecessor or to the enigmatic quality of colour.
It is perhaps telling about human condition when the Shelter, 2019 by Zoe Murdoch has no opening, no entrance. A closed box on a pedestal.
Closed form also governs Bill Saunders’s Hide Tide, 2019
Visual art often partners ethics, even if it not exactly follows the kallos agathos…
Images courtesy of Helen G Blake on Facebook. Without you, Helen, I could not do this essay. Thank you.