To celebrate the opening of Pontone Gallery’s new London space, Chris Rivers exhibits a new sequence of paintings, inspired by his ideas about the planets of the solar system. These are not representational images, but musings on their nature, physical properties and varied associations in myth, folklore and contemporary culture.
Rivers proposes particular narratives about each planet. He invents a story, imbuing each with distinctive attributes, illustrated with suitable objects in an expressive network of vigorously- worked paint. The paintings are thematic: colour, texture and handling expressive of the tenor of the subject. Garden motifs are of especial significance. Flower forms are scattered across the surface of the paintings. They drop through the space, fluttering across rich, saturated colour-fields. These, in turn, reference skies animated by storm and sun, suffused with elemental steam and vapour.
The handling of the brush is gestural and excited. The paint pools, drips and coagulates into lakes and islands of intense colour. In places it is quite obviously applied by hand or poured onto the canvas. He uses vivid and sumptuous colours which bring to mind the palettes of old masters, such as Tiepolo. The medium stretches from thick to thin in consistency, heightening some details and veiling others. Rivers takes a positive delight in making these changes in pace, directing the focus across the picture plane and effecting subtle shifts of pictorial emphasis.
Chris Rivers is a painter of beautiful matter suspended in a void. He makes an imagined world out of a welter of oil paint, his studio process a rolling turmoil of growth, change and decay. Lyrical and romantic, loaded with symbol, the pictures describe a creation myth. At the heart of their elegant storm and lush elaborations, we feel we are in at the birth of something.