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JH

Linen, Board, Paint and Speed

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Geoff Thornley: History #6, 2017, oil on linen on board, 122 x 122 cm; History #7, 2017, oil on linen on board, 60 x 80 cm Geoff Thornley as installed at Fox Jensen McCory Geoff Thornley: History #12, 2017, oil on linen on board, 186 x 186 cm; Anterior #30, 2017, oil on linen on board, 65 x 65 cm Geoff Thornley: Anterior #30, 2017, oil on linen on board, 65 x 65 cm; History #6, 2017, oil on linen on board, 122 x 122 cm; History #7, 2017, oil on linen on board, 60 x 80 cm Geoff Thornley, Anterior #41, 2017, oil on linen on board, 85 x 85 cm Geoff Thornley, Anterior #41, 2017, oil on linen on board, 85 x 85 cm Geoff Thornley, History #12, 2017, oil on linen on board, 186 x 186 cm Geoff Thornley, History #12, 2017, oil on linen on board, 186 x 186 cm Geoff Thornley: Anterior #38, 2017, oil on linen on board. 112 x 112 cm; History #12, 2017, oil on linen on board, 186 x 186 cm

The oil paint is thick enough to accentuate its viscous materiality (with thin sinewy lines) and some tonal mixing—grey with white/ purple with cream—but thin enough to allow orchestrated underpainted mottled blotches to peek through. You can just detect the colours of the latter directly on the righthand edges.

Auckland

 

Solo exhibition
Geoff Thornley

 

21 November - 21 December 2019

This collection of recent Geoff Thornley paintings features dark purple or grey horizontal lines—dense and organic—applied with a stiff bristled brush (on ‘ungiving’ linen over board) so that there is a clear difference between left (a margin showing with a raggedy-edged gap) and right (flush with edge) sides. One title refers to History; they are the browny-purple works. Another says Anterior,  referencing the grey ones.

The linear ‘reading’ direction of these super-subtle elegant works initially looks straightforward, yet it seems to be really going backwards (from right to left). There are also vertical streaks of shimmering light.

The oil paint is thick enough to accentuate its viscous materiality (with thin sinewy lines) and some tonal mixing—grey with white/ purple with cream—but thin enough to allow orchestrated underpainted mottled blotches to peek through. You can just detect the colours of the latter directly on the righthand edges.

Thornley’s two opposing types of vertical painted edge bring a fascinating drama to these works; a lovely contrast in the flush-with-linen flatness (margins) that is a foil to the incised indentions in the paint scraped out by the hard bristles (central body) with its accompanying mixing of tones.

Psychologically these sweeping streak-lines are a bit like speedlines in cartoons. Your first impulse is to turn from left to right, as if the painting itself is accelerating along the wall in that direction. Yet the production process (the clues on the linen) seems to be the opposite, although your inclination is to ignore that.

Also the vibrating light radiating from within (but like reflections on the surface of a slow-moving river) adds to the ambiance. In some works its verticality is pronounced, in others the rhythms are chopped up and swerve around. Note though that the works are lighter than what the photos here indicate—less dense—their surfaces more intricate.

John Hurrell

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