AboutBeaux Arts presents its first solo show of work by Luke Frost (b1976). The exhibition includes paintings made in 2008/9 during his Tate St Ives Artist Residency at Porthmeor Studios and first seen at Tate St Ives in 2009 (Paintings in Five Dimensions). The other work made for the show will continue the conversation with colour and structure he started while at Porthmeor.
Porthmeor Studio No 5, where Luke Frost worked for a year, was also appropriately where Patrick Heron painted for 41 years (before that it had been Ben Nicholson's studio).
Its expansive space and light inspired Frost to create a series of right-angled paintings that could be inserted into corners. âI had a large piece fabricated that enveloped your peripheral vision completely when you walked into the middle of itâ¦ I like the intensity of colour and the space gave me the opportunity to explore different compositions and structures'. Because of the ceiling height he also took to stacking the paintings, to create a series of dazzling triptychs that exploit the potential of pure slashes of colour juxtaposed one against another. As with Heron, colour is what drives Frost's work.
He builds it up painstakingly a minimum of five layers and will spend weeks mixing the right hue, surrounding himself with ribbons of paper each painted a fractionally different shade.
The result is a series of paintings, which look deceptively simple at first glance and nod to minimalist art of the 1960s. Their most noticeable feature is the vertical stripe, what Frost refers to as a âvolt'.
A volt implies electricity of course, and as Tony Godfrey noted in his Tate catalogue essay, âIt is the way such a volt of lightning or electricity transforms the space around it that matters: it does not sit there pretty like a stripe or bar.'
Frost's paintings literally draw the viewer in. As you move towards his triptychs, for instance, your eyes are constantly forced to adjust, to flick between wall and canvas, to take in the âhum' mobilized by the opposition of colours. His paintings encourage the viewer to literally explore the paintings, moving around them, towards them, in a bid to track the optical effects set up by their subtly different colour contrasts. As Godfrey noted in his essay for Tate St Ives, âThese phenomenological experiences are much like those we have in looking at certain minimal sculptures, especially those of Dan Flavin an artist Frost much admires and who is an acknowledged influence.'
Importantly, because Frost's paintings make you aware of your own physical reaction to them, they make you feel alive. Says Matthew Collings of Frost's work (in the Tate catalogue): âThey have a natural directness and seriousness that calms you down and makes you feel you're in the presence of something worthwhile.'