Works are spread over two rooms, dominated by a trio of large canvases 11 feet in length and horizontal in format. Oranges (2018) occupies the end wall of the first room. It is comprised of thickly applied oils and a dusting of spray paints. The colour range is extreme and the work is relentlessly energetic. Long thin marks are scored into the blocks of colours, crisscrossing a rhythm into the canvas. They overlay shorter thicker staccato grazes that appear as windows to reveal colours and forms buried beneath. The resulting picture plane holds scattered information across its surface, where various forms and images come in and out of focus. Colours advance and recede, surfaces rise and fall.
Hartley states that the images are found as much as they are composed, through a process of patient layering and excavating. His goal is to make paintings that are suffused and maximal and that take time to unravel or more accurately to be unraveled. The works require input from the viewer – they change depending on the light, the time of day, how an individual’s eye adjusts while looking. Hartley cites this process of looking as analogous to the autostereogram magic eye posters, which require the viewer to labour to access the image. Given time, layers, colours and forms, which were not immediately apparent, come to the foreground.
These works are not about reporting or documenting an idea, rather it is the sensation of looking that is the real subject matter. While the imagery can be perceived as buildings, space, flora and fauna, the same forms can quickly be seen as something else. The mode of ‘landscape’ is presupposed by the canvas format and scale, within which there’s freedom and pleasure for the viewer in interpretation and reinterpretation.
Victoria Adam, Susan Collis, David Raymond Conroy, Candice Jacobs, Jon Rafman & Friends