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Website: Chestnuts Design

Sunday Salon 24  |  Reiko Kubota  |  Beyond the Surface

Saturation Point, Deptford, London  |  27 November 2022.

©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock  All rights reserved.

The pieces in this Salon show are a selection of my output over 30 years, each representing a resolution of visual experiments exploring various spatial and chromatic relationships. They comprise a compound of material, mechanical, visual and intuitive ideas, resolved as paintings. My ideas derive from multiple sources, incorporating what I have discovered through making the previous artwork, while drawing upon both new and earlier sources of inspiration, to extend my exploration in new directions.

The earliest piece in the show, Beyond the Surface - III (1992), was made at an earlier point in my journey to create the virtual space that exists beyond the painting’s surface. This piece is structured geometrically with symmetrical divisions of a square incorporating the picture’s framing edge, creating a structure similar to concentric circles but in square form. I am interested in different forms of geometry and the golden section as a metaphor for perfection. The colour scheme is created independently from the geometric structure, using numerical sequences with each number assigned a chromatic value (i.e. 1 = red, 2 = yellow etc.). Three variations of different chromatic sequences were created, then superimposed on the geometric structure on top of one another, creating both harmony and dissonance at random intervals, asymmetrically. The idea of applying these two different methods for structuring the paintings’ composition references my interest in early polyphonic music from Europe, where different melodies and words were simultaneously sung together to create order and dissonance.

Beyond the Surface - III

A Space Beyond

Having made a series of these artworks I began searching for an alternative methodology of generating forms that would contain actions generating inconsistencies as a way of breaking the rigidity of the geometric symmetry. I was looking at traditional weaving of several different cultures, and I learned by talking to a Navajo weaver that the weaving process lends itself to incidental asymmetry and unintended changes in the details as they work on the loom. Inspired by this, I set out to create a process which would consequently incur incidental variations and after several experiments decided to hand-draw the tessellations which were geometrically  generated. The resulting new elements were gradually introduced into my artworks such as A Space Beyond (2006).

Around this time, I was also researching 17th and 18th century courtly Japanese paintings, attracted by their colour and structure. The pictures are divided into sections with each presenting a different aspect of the narrative theme, creating a panoramic impression. With this in mind, combined with my interest in European paintings that extend the painted images onto their picture frames, I created Sky Tree (2004), where the mahogany frame is an integral part of the painting.

Sky Tree

My interest in Japanese painting led me to experiment with Japanese papers (washi) as a painting support. Using washi to create formal paintings with pigment in glue required a more direct application of paints to build up colours in layers as this technique does not lend itself to glazing. When I made A Space Beyond my hand-drawn tessellation evolved more organically, with the resulting complexity of the painting’s structure requiring colour to enable its spatial comprehension. To achieve this I created simple rules assigning colours synchronising both the shape and colour of the tessellations, which also reveals incidental irregularities as they are generated.

When in Shadows

I have always wanted to create images which invite and intrigue viewers to explore the spaces within, so my work incorporates multiple strands of colours and shapes in harmony or in contrast. When In Shadows (2014) introduces the idea of the impact shadows have on the perception of space and colour. I studied tempera and glazing techniques modelled on Western Renaissance painting and have always had a keen interest in making paints directly from raw pigments. This taught me the individual character of each pigment, which I have come to regard as physical materials which our brains perceive as colours. I am interested in historical colour palettes, such as those used in Egyptian murals, which consist of a handful of pigments. By transcribing historical palettes using modern pigments I create a chromatic experience that appears to relate to another undefined, but distant, time. This has informed my creation of paintings that explore the idea of excavation. These artworks include several layers of painted images that are, in part, revealed through the selective scraping-off of the different layers. The shadows are superimposed on the surface as in real life, which contributes to the obscuring of the excavated motifs.

Of Another Space

Of Another Space (2018) is about two unrelated images that exist as different notional spaces, segregated and defined by the slats which obscure the view behind them. I am fascinated by the visual effect that the physical divisions of a multi-panel support creates, which works to reinforce the perceived spatial divisions. In this painting, the alternating views of the two images and the divide of the panels, together with the overlay of shadows, creates a space that is open to interpretation.