As its opening exhibition Frestonian Gallery presents a riotous ensemble of colour and form through the paintings of a select group of artists of varying fame but more equal distinction.
Of all the themes and threads connecting the works exhibited, the first and foremost can be seen as a deep passion for the emotional, perhaps spiritual power of colour. Whether in the neon glow of David Price’s recent compositions on panel, or in the shimmering crimsons and soft greens of Adrian Berg’s ‘Beachy Head’, we are witness to a celebration and deep understanding of the communicative power of colour and light.
The title of the exhibition itself – The Luminous Language – is taken from a quote by the painter, writer and co-founder of the Orphist movement Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) when explaining the intrinsic relation of painting to light and form. In this exhibition, as presented by Frestonian Gallery, we are also however reminded of painting’s other key component – narrative.
In the work of Adrian Berg and William Crozier this narrative is one of the shifting patterns of light through the day, the turning of the seasons, and indeed the psychological landscape of the artist himself. Adrian Berg returned to specific locations frequently, painting at different points of the year to capture fastidiously each varying quality of light and hue (though his highly energetic and expressive paintings perhaps belie this meticulous approach!). For Crozier, the shifting patterns were of a more internal and existential nature – his works often highly exaggerating passages of dark, light or otherwise dissonant patterns in the landscape to express his own feelings for the subject.
The internal narrative is certainly a hallmark of the work of Ken Kiff, whose extraordinarily otherworldly practice called upon the dream-scape paintings of Chagall, but synthesised into an entirely personal exploration of his own psyche and imagination. This ‘half-conscious’ world also informs the paintings of Jessie Makinson, whose large-scale canvases begin as automatic drawings on a much smaller scale, with the figurative/narrative details imposed at a later stage and led by these subconscious forms – allegories and characters emerging from a dream-state.
The works of both Davids – Price and Hockney – featured in the exhibition have about them a hint of the stage-set, or rather the tableau. The marine blue framed 1991 composition by Hockney has about it more than a hint of the surreal, and his abiding interest in the problems of perspective and perception lead us into a painting inhabited by strange and ambiguous signs, symbols and forms. This quality of ‘strangeness’ also guides the practice of Price, whose semi-urban ‘grottoes’ have about them a sense of both intrigue and ambiguity.