Steven Asquith’s new exhibition Ethereal Variations: 2 Rips & Puncture Marks continues his investigation of minimal abstraction that began in the 2017 Ethereal Puncture Marks series. Asquith’s new sequence of works are stripped back, uniform compositions of urban decay and the landscape.
Using stencils and acrylic spray paint, each composition is defined by two vertical slashes and an arrangement of puncture marks that appear to pierce the surface of the canvas. The interplay between the marks produce distinctive configurations through the repetition of materials and form. A luminous white haze spreads across the canvas creating an illusion of space, revealing an otherness behind the flatness of the painting.
The surface appears torn or distressed in parts—like it has been run over by a truck leaving tyre marks imprinted. Perhaps more contemporarily, the viewer is conditioned to the artifice of gazing at a digital screen while images render in and out of focus in front of their eyes. Where does the glare emerge from? Is it a tear in the fabric of our perception of reality or a reckoning of something else beyond?
Other means of repetition and materiality emerge. Asquith samples the techniques of graffiti that he distinctively combines with elements of painterly abstraction. Like graffiti and hip-hop culture which sampled and echoed society, Asquith alludes to not only its history, and that of painting and abstraction, but also the current geo-political climate and the 24-hour news cycle.
The tonal variances of pink, purple, violet, orange and blue evoke skyscapes that transition in a twilight haze from dawn to dusk. The ominous skyscapes of toxins, gases, and exhaust fumes are a nod to fossil fuel-based economies and their effect on global warming. These paintings pose questions and suggest a dystopian vision of a scorched earth a few hundred years (or perhaps sooner?) into the future.