'Into and Out of Abstraction' is curated by Paul Carey-Kent for Lubomirov-Easton. Curator and Critic Paul Carey-Kent has selected three painters acclaimed for their dynamic engagement with abstraction in relation to the figurative. There's no need for a contemporary painter to âdiscover' abstraction in the sense in which, for Kandinsky or Malevich, it was the logical end point in a journey which began in the world as observed and ended in an apparently contrasting absolute. All the same, the relationship of abstract paintings to reality remains a key part of their dynamic and interest. This show features three contrasting ways in which that relationship can operate.
The route most endorsed by past practice is from the world to abstraction. Very often that's linked to paring back and boiling down the teeming noumena to a perceived purity, but Danny Rolph's Mexico riffs on that multiplicity as it emerges from the world in two ways. First, in the personal history behind its conjunctions of dizzying geometries and spatial dynamics, which relate to his abiding interest in Modernist architecture and design; second, in the variety of representations collaged into its layerings here including wrestlers, shop signs, upended pop stars and a starry night which give rise to, are connected by, and interact with, the painted abstract marks. Rolph moves from the world to abstraction and back again.
Gunther Herbst gives us abstraction in the world. He makes coloured geometric collages in which, though the borrowings are indirect, such predecessors as Mondrian. Judd and Kelly hover. He then paints those abstract forms into landscapes which themselves collage together various styles of mark-making so that the world appears infected by painterly technique. That stands in for social dislocation or the imperialist pretensions of western art and, by extension, the politics behind that. Abstraction's in the world, aesthetically and sociologically.
The rarest route is probably Colin Crumplin's: his two part paintings reverse the usual process of abstracting from reality by taking a chance-driven abstract starting point and then perhaps years later finding something figurative in reality which matches it in some way. This builds the world's unpredictability into the process and provides a dynamic and innovative way of staging modern painting's typical contest between form and content. Travelling from abstraction to the world, he arrives at riots, flowers and anatomyâ¦
Rolph, Herbst and Crumplin, then, all combine differing languages within single works in a post-modernist manner, and all introduce a political dimension as they move into and out of abstraction. Together, they demonstrate how abstraction can remain relevant today - through how it relates to, and is charged by, the world.