John Hurrell – 1 June, 2015
Some of the dowel works appear to be crooked or lopsided with their central vertical line. So one wonders: did he have lapses and didn't notice? Is he goading the viewer, deliberately being irritating and provocative - in some 'edgy' avant-garde way that you will end up liking him for? Is he making a ‘mistake' deliberately for some wider philosophical or religious reason, like a Hopi sand painter or Afghani rug weaver? Or does he genuinely like the perturbation caused by the texture of some sand in the vaseline - a demurring formalist who somehow choreographs beauty through clenched teeth.
15 May - 20 June 2015
This, Oliver Perkins’ second show at Hopkinson Mossman, carries on his investigations of canvas and stretcher, playing against the usual conventions of portable (but permanent) pigment support - his colour carefully chosen via acrylic and ink. With rectangular stretchers leaning against the wall inside carefully prepared outer canvas frames, or with one verso turned recto, or a taut top half with an added thick panel hidden underneath, or with a different same sized stretcher horizontally positioned on top of its vertical twin: Perkins delights in being playfully inventive.
Working in a more domestic sized scale in the tradition of Ellsworth Kelly, Leon Polk Smith or Richard Smith, this artist feels comfortable using only a couple of unmodulated hues, or a wider ranging assortment of randomly coloured patterns cut from the footprint stained and splattered dropcloth on the floor.
Besides also experimenting with physical edges and abrupt or concavely bevelled side profiles, he often makes good use of multi-coloured canvas collage cut from the before-mentioned tarpaulin and rearranged to look like comic panels, and centrally positioned (or not quite central), and vertical (or not quite vertical) lengths of dowel.
The point about the dowel is that Perkins plays on ambiguous interpretation. Some of the dowel works (as in his previous show) appear to be crooked or lopsided with their central vertical line. So one wonders: did he have lapses and didn’t notice? Is he goading the viewer, deliberately being irritating and provocative - in some ‘edgy’ avant-garde way that you will end up liking him for? Is he making a ‘mistake’ deliberately for some wider (cosmic) philosophical or religious reason, like a Hopi sand painter or Afghani rug weaver? Or does he genuinely like the perturbation caused by the texture of some sand in the vaseline, a fly in the ointment - a demurring formalist who somehow choreographs beauty through clenched teeth.
In his last presentation Perkins displayed a continuous line of same sized canvases that wound elegantly at head height around the perimeters of the two galleries. For this current show he exhibits a mixed combination of several sized canvases, trying out different scales. Personally I find it is the smallest of these, with delicate coloured marks, that have the most impact, items like Vessels (2015) and Birk (2014) that on a second visit I’m still really drawn to and am reluctant to leave. These patterns on the dropcloth, cleverly selected and cut out for the upper (non-monochrome) canvas, have an intricacy worthy of a Klee or Bissier.
Of the larger works - that often seem to refer to Ellsworth Kelly because of their monochromatic and diptych structure - the warm yellow and dark purple Untitled (2015) is particularly well resolved with its two surprisingly harmonious planes (aren’t complementary colours meant to grate?) that - enclosed in a dark frame - sing the pleasures of pure chromatic sensation and finely tweaked proportion. Chorister (2014), a middle sized work, plays on the leaned on surface of the wall and the splattered back of the outer wooden stretcher - through the use of the same cocoa brown for both panels.
Because of Perkins‘ range of painterly and relief explorations, this is an enjoyable show that allows you to methodically scrutinise each explorative and nuanced item over a couple of visits. They take time to absorb. Some of the best works - in my view - are the cheapest. A rich range of offerings.
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