Over twenty years ago Mansfield launched into a series of works, starting with No.1 and continuing into the 500's, which progressively explored the power of the medium to suggest and elucidate form from within itself. Initially blobs and smudges and sweeps which were then cajoled into anything from a dead rabbit to a pair of cabbages, they developed over the years until finding extraordinary impressive and beguiling form in a succession of series of female faces, graphically figurative, very familiar but disturbingly alien. It was still always about the paint that formed them and the surface that confined them.
In his latest work, Mansfield has turned about-face. These paintings start as mental images which have then melted down into strange and ambiguous form in their transfer to paint. There is not much in them, just three colours ' black, white, burnt umber ' and some indistinct shapes. And what are these misty shapes that both lie on the surface of his canvases and drift smokily way, way beyond them? Clearly they are branches, trees, windows, book covers, faces, whole landscapes but they have become branches brushing the skin, trees to get lost in, faces in the clouds, stories between the covers. Mansfield is a consummate painter and he has an astonishing ability to fashion his medium, but there is also an enchanted melancholy at work here and the paintings represent a rare amalgam of formal mastery and mystery.