James Lumden: Fugue

7 Apr 2011 – 10 May 2011

Sarah Myerscough Gallery

London, United Kingdom


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  • Bond Street / Green Park

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Fugue n. 1 Mus. A contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts. These new paintings continue to build upon the Liquid Light series, but titles such as Fugue and Contrapunto introduce an analogy to music within the work. Each painting sets its evocation of light, colour and atmosphere within varying dynamics, rhythm and movement. Lumsden's work is primarily concerned with process — building translucent glazes of paint until an illusion of light and depth are achieved. The process involves the application of multiple (up to 40 or more) thin glazes of acrylic paint and gloss medium. Each layer is dragged, pulled or squeegeed with various implements — the process being repeated layer upon layer until the final painting begins to emerge. Arrived at by both chance and deliberation, the final painting reveals varying chromatic strata, which can be seen through the translucence, pentimenti and depth of the work. These are paintings which draw the viewer beneath the surface to give some experience of their making — both revealing and concealing the history of the painting process. The paintings are set within a distinct formal compositional framework. Although the horizontal division creates allusions to landscape, this is primarily a device to heighten the dynamic, contrasts, tension and intensity of the painting. A parallel series of works on paper (developed during a residency award from The Royal Scottish Academy) use graphite powder suspended in acrylic medium. Echoing the process used in the paintings each layer is dragged or manipulated with various implements, creating paintings built from a medium traditionally associated with drawing. Lumsden aims to make paintings which are luminous, seductive, sensual and atmospheric. The artist fascinated in how the raw materials innate to the medium can be turned into something poetic — an object filled with light, feeling, atmosphere and emotion.

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