AboutCalligrams features four painters whose work explores contemporary paths of minimalist abstraction. The exhibition brings together UK artists Jane Bustin and Estelle Thompson with American painters, Kevin Finklea and Matt Magee.
Calligrams poses questions about the challenge involved in reinventing non-representational genres. The artists work within traditional parameters of colour, form and support, yet each in individual ways extends them.
Jane Bustin's investigations into the potential for the abstract image to allude to emotional states or metaphorical concepts are closest perhaps to traditions of the sublime in abstraction. Exploring sources in literature, her recent series of works are made in response to Mallarmé's volume of poems ''Pour Anatole un tombeau'. Employing a range of materials and supports her work has moved into the territory of installation where related paintings and text are sited in three-dimensional arrangements.
Echoes of Suprematism and Colour Field abstraction are evident in the work of Kevin Finklea and Estelle Thompson, in their use of geometric forms and the manipulation of ranges of complex, high-keyed colours. Finklea's recent paintings arise from memories of place and time and have moved off the two-dimensional picture plane into three-dimensional relief. The range and vocabulary of Finklea's colour, whether the exclamatory blush of two contrasting pinks or the meditative quality of light blues, are focused and projected into space through his use of sculptural form.
The intense colours and re-worked surfaces of Estelle Thompson's oils on panel bring to mind a range of associations from past traditions in painting, from the shimmering light of Renaissance frescos to the distressed surface of Jasper Johns 'Flag'. Thompson's nuanced surfaces act in counterpoint to her plays with geometric form, in which a simple division of a rectangle can offer myriad visual possibilities.
Matt Magee's more emblematic paintings employ simple pictograms such as punctuation marks, barcodes or numbers, as a way of incorporating language into the work under his own abstract terms. Formally satisfying simply as shape, these signs are weighted with exclamatory force and are held within surfaces of meticulously painted marks. Often executed in two colours, Magee's arrangements of graphic form and painted texture have elegant and active effects.