What. Women and trees.
As the lyrically poetic title of this exhibition suggests, these paintings reference two of the most well-known elements of historical art subject matter - women and trees. But we shouldn’t expect traditional depictions, and nor are these offered.
What are we to make of these frenetic, fever-dream paintings, with their pointillist daubs, in a palette of mainly primary colours, plus black? The artist states that “my process has always been a methodology of dismantling and elimination.” And we see, in this series, the very subject matter has been eliminated, leaving an abstracted maelstrom of reduced colour and texture.
what’s art is very much about the building blocks of painting. This series relates to the physical act of painting as much as to the presentation of the (non) imagery, and an oblique nod to the recent history of abstraction. The viewer is drawn in to the game, aware of the impossibility of perceiving either tree or figure across the flattened, dancing surfaces of the works.
Speaking of a recent series, painted with a similar palette, the artist tells us that he was “reminded of classical Indian painting and early religious iconography” – and, in both of those two examples, as in the paintings in this exhibition, reduced colour is freighted with consequence and meaning outside of itself.
Steve Cox, 2018.