Hannah Luxton makes paintings inspired by the geological sublime and the late 18th Century Romantic notion that a divine order resides within raw nature. The works reach further back in time finding an emotional kinship with the implicit sense of the sublime traceable within prehistoric art.
Animistic currents run through the works, hinting towards a higher spiritual dimension. Animism intimates the attribution of a living soul to inanimate objects and natural phenomena, and belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe. As such, Luxton finds her subjects in her explorations of the remote natural world - the sun, the moon, stars, mountain tops, waterfalls, craters and ice caverns - condensing and abstracting each referent into an archetypal version of itself. Often combining the ephemeral qualities of the natural world with the authority of geometry and symmetry, her paintings slow time and elude direct interpretation. Their strong emotive core is yet fragile and fleeting and they speak an elementary, instinctual language rooted in a place of pre-rational understanding.
While the Western world has historically viewed notions of the Void or nothingness as containing an omnipotent power to be feared, Luxton has an instinctive empathy for opposing Eastern philosophies that embrace this space as freedom beyond the confines of the material world, and seek it out as the purest mental state of existence. Luxton uses bare linen to give substance and significance to supreme ‘nothingness’, dissolving the boundary frequently drawn between ‘the natural world’ that surrounds us on Earth and the ‘natural’ sphere of the cosmos.
Just as much as her imagery, Luxton relies heavily on surface and texture as her means of communication. She uses a variety of weaves and tones of linen, dependent on the nature of the painting, from thick heavy weaves of deep brown fabric, to super fine, pale grey or translucent bleached ivory linen. Luxton’s studio process is one of contemporary use and manipulation of traditional, age-old painting methods and materials, in which she has mastered oil paint to appear in a variety of guises. From shiny globules of intense colour and reflective depths of glaze, to intense matt mounds applied with a palette knife or near impossible thin washes of oil on bare linen that appear like watercolour. She predominantly employs single pigment oils, only mixing through glazing, so as to demonstrate a colours’ character and clarity, and often grinds her own semi precious and rare colours such as Malachite and Lapis Lazuli.
Hannah Luxton & Sarah Jaspan, 2021