John Hurrell – 9 May, 2016
These are very smart works. On the one hand we see the manual traces of two arms pulling the thin paint 60% of the way across the surface of the rigid canvas. On the other we see a very carefully planned compositional arrangement designed to showcase the slivered layers of paint running along four meticulously positioned edges. Your eye runs along those wobbly borders enjoying the surprising lines of chroma 'extruded' out.
16 April - 28 May 2016
These new paintings from Geoff Thornley surprise with their interest in providing an unpainted (but primed) vertical band - approx. 30% of the width - down the lefthand side. It looks a bit like a margin in a school writing pad, or the hard cardboard cover of a book. The point of this extended ‘blank’ space (a soft greyish - not stark - white) seems to be to provide a planar foil so you ponder the other three board edges that project out over space, and how they negotiate the limits of the floating (obviously unframed) canvas-covered board. These painted edges are rough and ragged, with bits of the surprisingly varied underpainting peeking out.
While bits of underpainting also peek out from under the sharp vertical edge meeting the wide pale band, that border’s top layer has been crisply masked. The coating of thin ochrey and powdery overpainting that dominates the front (outer) surface extends horizontally from left to right, applied it seems via a broomlike squeegee with stiff bristles. The squiggly vertical lines of underpainting, dry when covered with the final single-application rusty horizontal layer, provide a decorative, richly suggestive mottled effect. They are blurrily visible (with a slight shimmer) under the bristly striations left by the very wide paint-laden brush that was pulled in one movement only.
These are very smart works. On the one hand we see the manual traces of two arms pulling the thin paint 60% of the way across the surface of the rigid canvas. On the other we see a very carefully planned compositional arrangement designed to showcase the slivered layers of paint running along four meticulously positioned edges. Your eye runs along those wobbly borders enjoying the surprising lines of chroma ‘extruded’ out.
Curiously, in the Fox Jensen annex (foyer) before you get to the main gallery, there are three other paintings in the same series. Surprising, two are on stretched canvases, not canvas on boards projecting out from the wall on hidden metal bracing squares - like the rest. These seem to be experimental precursors, and being canvas on stretchers, feature vertical bands of unpainted canvas on their sides - like canvas slabs - as is conventional. The three outer edges here of course are not so accentuated, because the painting has sides they compete with.
Thornley has presented an intriguing exhibition of works more modest in scale than his usual projects. He really makes you think about the production of painting layers within his methodology and your own processes of looking: how, when, and where.
To read a transcript of the panel discussion “Whose Oceania?” held recently in London, and more on NZ arts abroad, CLICK HERE
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