John Hurrell – 15 April, 2013
Referring to Apollo and the nine Muses, Tomislav Nikolic's Muse (2004-5) features acrylic paint thickened with marble dust. The sheets are painted black both sides, the vibrantly cold colour brushed on one face and the square sheet turned around so that its back is displayed. This allows us to see the blindly applied paint seeping under the paper edges and flattened by pressure of the flat paper on the artist's wooden studio table.
Winston Roeth, Tomislav Nikolic, Imi Knoebel, Geoff Thornley
26 March - 28 April 2013
The four works here - all non-figurative, and all process and craft driven - focus on manual aspects of studio practice, using unusual procedures for manipulating coloured substances to construct minimalist ‘abstract’ painting. Each of the contributions is distinctive in the manner by which they examine the square or rectangle and the relationship between the interior and the perimeter: the centre versus the outer straight edges of the support - yet because of the many cross -connections and parallels, the unusually varied group coheres.
The largest work is a 3 x 3 grid made up of nine framed painted paper sheets under glass, with a tenth on another wall further round the corner. Referring to Apollo and the nine Muses, Tomislav Nikolic’s Muse (2004-5) features acrylic paint thickened with marble dust. The sheets are painted black both sides, the vibrantly cold colour brushed on one face and the square sheet turned around so that its back is displayed. This allows us to see the blindly applied paint seeping under the paper edges and flattened by pressure of the flat paper on the artist’s wooden studio table. Of the nine trickled ‘rims’, one featuring a hotter orange is placed in the centre of the matrix. The sheet on the other wall - the other component - is a plane of wildly brushed on gold, different ‘colours’ of gold mixed up, a range of optical metallic temperatures.
In the nearby gallery office, instead of a spread out grid on a wall, we see an Imi Knoebel work consisting of a projecting stack of painted aluminium ‘frames’. Here chroma has been applied to the edges, mostly to be seen sideways - with white placed on the front planes parallel to the wall. The configured vertical relief is not a pile of rectangles but a pile of flat hollow struts, alternating up and across with two parallel bars, each resting at a right angle to the one below so that the structure is spatially airy, not materially dense. The bars are quite wide, so with the empty middle their butted corner intersections are accentuated.
The other two works are more traditional canvases or panels, except they have painted borders delineated on their picture plane, not wrapped round their edges. Geoff Thornley‘s large canvas with a delicately veined grey pink field, is surrounded by a stained strip of lawn green on all four sides. As your eyes adjust you start to notice a faint green bar floating near the bottom edge within the field - and that that is part of a barely detectable green frame hovering within the work. There are also hints of vertical straight lines partially descending from the top, and other thin purple lines ascending from the bottom. They never connect, being linear fragments or fleeting suggestions of vector.
The fourth work in the show is a panel by Winston Roeth, a matt black tempera square surrounded by a painted-on gold/copper flat border. Many glowing layers have been built up of the outer metallic bands applied over the black, which has then been reapplied over the whole surface - and so on. The thinly layered, grainy copper-gold shimmers, locked into the pristine edges of the central impenetrably dark void and there is a very gradual building up of paint at the edges. There is also a double layering at the corners with the brownish gold having less of the underlying black peeking through.
Fox Jensen‘s exhibition explores the tension between centre and periphery in square or rectangle constructions, between complexity and apparent simplicity, between artisanal activity in a composition and its absence. It’s a sophisticated and nuanced presentation examining the tension between inside and out - the nature of two dimensional containment.