Martin Battye

…troubled light…

People experience a great delight in colour, generally.  The eye requires it as much as it requires light.  We have only to remember the refreshing sensation we experience, if on a cloudy day the sun illuminates a single portion of the scene before us and displays its colours. Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Theory of Colour 1810

These most recent works begin with the preparation of a colour ground on which successive, increasingly thick layers of oil (occasionally the works are in acrylic) are applied.  The image is the outcome of a sequence of final defining strokes, a swift set of horizontal and vertical gestures that drag across the paint like a kind of rake – these can be made by the artist or a co-opted tool of regular prongs designed to mould decorative plastering.  At this stage the carefully planned accidents happen, some of which will be more or less happily anticipated.  The outcome of this violent interference to the layers of paint can then be refined, colour added in careful touches or the tone of the surrounding frame revised.

The success of the final act of disruption is the product of years of experience.  The artist’s careful orchestration results in extraordinary collisions and eruptions of colour.  Strata of colour combine, submerge and emerge.  In places these layers come away from the ground giving the works a strange timelessness, as if the forces at work were geological.  A given set of methods has produced work of unexpected variety, from smooth, worn surfaces of floating geometry to deeply gouged cliffs of oil. 

It is a mysterious alchemy of surface rigour and palette that make these works appear to hum with energy, the eye intrigued and led astray by tangled colour.  These very clever, crafted paintings are overwhelmingly beautiful.  Their brilliance is held in the balance between the skilled manipulation of media and an unalloyed pleasure in colour. 

Amanda Geitner

June 2016

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