Currently one of the areas of my practice I am delving back into is an ongoing series of works concerned with light. This, for me, has always involved studying works by Rembrandt, Turner and other great artists who have used paint in brilliant ways to depict light effects. Part of this process is making a myriad of paints and experimental mediums and working in layers to build up sculptural, bright lights, translucent, mysterious darks and all that is in between. It’s also been a great excuse to study up-close lots of mesmerizing paint surfaces of some of the great painters of the past, as well as exciting contemporary artists.
The illusionism of depicting light on a painted surface, of inviting a viewer into a space inside the canvas, often contrasts with another passion of mine, which is an emphasis on the surface as a material, on the flatness and ‘objectness’ of a painting. The sheer joy and celebration of tactile paint and materials, and the energy and force materials have intrinsically. A painting thats power comes from it’s own two-dimensionality. Anti-illusionism, as it is often defined. Tàpies, Burri, Dansaekhwa artists. The list of amazing artists whose painting surfaces exude such power and magnificence is extremely long.
I sometimes find that a struggle between illusionism and anti-illusionism is happening in individual works, and is really interesting to pursue visually. I have painted quite traditional style landscapes, only to smash them with paint on the surface after they have dried, in order to complicate the image and rob it of being just an illusionistic piece of work. It hasn’t felt complete until I do this. This type of work is perhaps more playing with how we look – the excitement of getting lost in a visual maze of different depths – oscillating between flatness and depth, the image and the substance. This is one of the themes or ideas running through the ‘Tangle of Matter & Ghost’ series. I have always found the works by Peter Doig of architecture through trees to be some of his most enticing work. Form, pattern, geometry and nature are woven together, drawing you in until you are lost in a sea of abstract paint marks.
You can see a selection of work from the ongoing series ‘Traveling Light’ here.