Tandoori Turquoise and Mulberry Mauves is Mary Barton’s third exhibition at NKN Gallery. This new body of work sees the artist further developing her unique visual language over a dozen canvases.
This time her characteristic imagery is extended to take in the architecture, brilliant fabrics and sumptuous colours of Java and India, where the artist travelled and worked for six months. Barton collected pigments and dyes from various areas which were used in most of the paintings.
There are references to landscapes in the canvases – but these are landscapes upended; the elements within them itemised. We are presented with both deep and shallow spaces within individual works. The paintings are desert-hot or forest-cool. Titles such as: ‘Rajasthani Chai Noons’, ‘Motels of Pushkar’ and ‘Memorable Patterns from India’ evoke dusty, sun-drenched days or balmy evenings. The work titled ‘Sandstone Temples - Buildings in the Middle of the Desert’ presents an image of schematised architectural elements jostling with the landscape that attempts to contain it. ‘East Java Foliage’ is an explosion of colour against a blazing skyblue ground.
There are other references to plant life elsewhere - foliage and flaming blooms are suggested within the diagrammatic areas. We see pathways slicing through the compositions; in some works there are suggestions of pictogrammatic tracks weaving through or connecting the forms.
Barton’s paintwork emulates the way that our eye slides across natural vistas – sometimes becoming focused on a particular area; sometimes slipping over less-detailed sections, only to be corralled in other segments of the compositions.
Her approach is one of ‘stream of consciousness’ meandering in which previous passages are overpainted and earlier layers are embedded beneath later applications of paint as the pictures take form under her brush. Images are allowed to ebb and flow until the artist is satisfied with the outcomes. We see the gentle abutting of opposite states: opaque areas adjoin transparent; textured sections overlap smooth; darkness meets light.