H_A_R_D_P_A_I_N_T_I_N_G @ Phoenix Brighton January - February 2018
Ian Boutell, John Bunker, Philip Cole, Stig Evans, Tess Jaray, Johanna Melvin, Patrick O’Donnell
Seven contemporary abstract painters explored the possibilities inherent in space, colour, line and edge, and seek to develop a conversation around the language of paint. The exhibition presented a collection of paintings that had been developed through pre-meditated and choreographed processes; in developing the images, the artists favoured intention over accident.
The exhibition and associated activities encouraged a wide-ranging and rigorous dialogue around contemporary painting practice and raised questions, provocations and tentative assertions such as:
What is hard painting? Painting that is hard edged, non-figurative and abstract? Painting that endures? Painting is hard work. Painting is a complex and esoteric distillation of ideas.
... began with four artists from Phoenix Brighton talking together about their work, seeing common interests and ideas, and wanting to explore those conversations with other artists.
Around the same time in the UK there was an ACE touring exhibition called Kaleidoscope which featured 24 British Artists from the 1960’s. This exhibition resonated with us. One of the artists in that exhibition is Tess Jaray RA who kindly allowed us to show her original silkscreen of ‘Minuet’ a seminal piece from 1966.
We also welcomed to this exhibition Johanna Melvin and John Bunker, each having deep engagements with the work and making of abstract painting, with characteristics that we identified as occupying the ground between heart and head and the product of long-term ideas and premeditations. Neither averse to gestural abstraction of impasto and accident nor to systematic or concrete art but occupying a space in a tradition of abstract painting.
The painter, David Reed wrote, ‘I don’t want to be the last painter, and I don’t want to be the first, I want to be part of a conversation’ The image I have in mind is of a conversation with the artists of the past. We agree to disagree, but carry on the dialogue'.
H_A_R_D_P_A_I_N_T_I_N_G was such a conversation and endeavored to show some of the processes, possibilities and dilemmas that constitute abstract painting today.
Philip, Ian, Stig and Patrick