'Milton Avery was, without question, America's greatest colorist…. Among his European contemporaries, only Matisse—to whose art he owed much, of course—produced a greater achievement in this respect.' Hilton Kramer, former chief art writer to The Nation, New York Times & New York Post.
I have been working lately with colour and the relationships that occur on a canvas and how one might create movement, depth and a sense of solidity with the most reduced type of forms. I am inspired by the American painter Milton Avery whose work during the early to mid 20th century I find beautiful and intriguing. He makes colour do so much not only on its own but in terms of the relationships between one colour and the other.
He takes the formless void and occupies it so quietly with colour and tone, bringing to life the canvas with a wonderful simplicity. He is also a master of the empty space, the shapes left behind are as beguiling as his figures. I have been trying to work tuned into that sensibility and finding how incredibly difficult it is to occupy a canvas as he does. Colour is so difficult to blend harmoniously and it is also very hard to take account of what one leaves behind the moment a mark is made. There is the form itself and then the relationship to the once empty space that suddenly vibrates with this new 'being' on the canvas. Life suddenly occupies a once blank canvas and the life suddenly has a boundary that it must also relate to. The next line creates another new relationship and so on.
My paintings relate to different experiences. One is purely a figure landscape similar to some of the photography of Bill Brandt, whilst the other relates to my being unable to attend my end of year show. It was a very difficult year and I achieved a lot but I was not able to celebrate my achievements due to the anxiety such public situations create for me. I wanted to try and use very reduced form and colour to somehow express feelings and to use techniques similar to how I perceive Milton Avery's paintings.
I have tried to create movement and a sense of relationship between the figure and the landscape or the figures and the room such that the non occupied spaces hum with a sense of connectedness to the figures. Avery uses a very definite formal boundary to his figures and his work was seen as representational when the American abstract expressionists arrived in the 50's. I left my outlines slightly off so that there is representation but also a feeling of figures not quite being balanced. The sizes are wrong and there is no perspective relationship between the figures but I wasn't trying to establish a spatial scale relationships I was trying to experiment with colour and space on the canvas and not seeking to make perfect paintings. I am not particularly interested in perspective, personally I find it too technical and creatively limiting for me and it seems to dominate my creative thinking if I think too much about it.
These are just painting experiments and for me they are connected to sculpture, photography, poetry and all of the other subjects I am interested in. I don't feel a disconnection between any medium and each experiment within different creative fields I hope makes me better equipped the next time I approach and occupy another.