Art critic and historian Irving Sandler described Michael Kidner as "arguably the first of the Op artists in Britain."
Both rational and playful, Kidner’s art has combined visual responses to the principles of mathematics, science, and chaos theories, alongside an interest in the irrational and unpredictable nature of the human condition. He said, "Unless you read a painting as a feeling, then you don't get anything at all."
Early in his career, before developing his own distinctive style, Kidner’s work was informed by abstract expressionism and the paintings of Mark Rothko in particular. Several works in the exhibition from this period, featuring expressive fields of radiant colour, are direct homages Rothko.
From 1961 onwards, Kidner's study of optics and visual perception led to his pursuit of a pure form of imagery and he sought a phenomenological approach to the fluctuating effects of light and colour within the space set by the canvas. This can be seen in some of his earliest paintings. Kidner said: “Once I realised that my interest in colour rather than the figure or landscape could become the subject of a painting, I was off to a new start. An after-image was the purest experience of colour I could recall and because it occurs on the retina of the eye, it looks brighter than any surrounding colour.”
This exhibition first took place at Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre: 29 October 2021 – 16 January 2022.