In Martin George’s ‘Checkerfield Paintings’, the artist’s aim is to disrupt the surface, dislocating the figure/ground relationship. He states that the works are like “broken down abstractions – like a monochrome painting that looks like it has been pulled apart, becoming loose at the seams, or there is a sort of tension pulling from behind the painted surface”.
Through a use of repetition and checkerboard pattern device, each area on the canvas is carefully assembled, piece by piece, until the desired arrangement is made. There are internal guidelines which are negotiated as the paintings are developed, sometimes the artist will adhere to these and sometimes he abandons them.
George employs a meticulous, labour-intensive way of working, which he has made his own. A diverse range of materials has been used, including: screen-printing and embroidery and sculptural areas built up of raw canvas thread.
The ‘checkerfield’ areas in many of George’s paintings form a kind of mosaic effect, reminiscent of Ancient Roman decoration. “Its role is to support and hold fragmented sections of the painting together. Its slow process is the final stage of the painting.” Their mottled appearance, “creates a surface of colour density that makes you think of Colour Field painting. There is a flickering tonal value between each mark as they sit next to or askew with each other that creates a visual tension that refers to Op Art.”
The artist’s initials are always present in the works. George states that this “allows a strange relationship to occur between two conflicting components in a painting - one being a pure abstraction and the second being the artist’s ego.”