How many exhibition works:
Pontone Gallery is delighted to present a new series of paintings by Olivia Longstaff. These works are the result of a systematic studio process that pits deliberate and sequential action against the random physicality of paint. The artist follows a programme of formal decisions that determine mark, colour palette, scale and composition which are subsequently informed, altered and transformed by the nature of the material. The resulting pieces document the ‘conversation’ between the matter and its method of application.
Blocks and clumps of thick and sticky ultramarine and cobalt sit on top of streaks and washes of shimmering viridian. Over this are layered strategic dashes of lemon yellow, cursive whorls of dark green and calligraphic flourishes of midnight blue. The various elements cascade and scatter across the surface, clustering and dispersing, making for dynamic compositions which lead the eye across the allusive landscape of the picture plane. Smooth areas butt up against jagged outcrops, nervous linear streaks and bold, emphatic dashes trace pathways through the formal illusion of space and texture, comingling here and there for change of pace and focus. The eye is in motion and then at rest, captured by the optical snares of the painting process.
The work is predicated on a serious involvement with the materiality of paint and how it is applied. The artist sets herself a set of rules, within which there is an interplay between their apparent limits and her response to outcomes: mark follows mark, gesture reacts to gesture, form suggests counter-form. After an initial drafting, intuition is allowed in and the creative dialogue is set in motion. The pictures’ subject is the act of painting itself: creating something out of nothing, a handful of pigment, mixed with oil and applied with the age-old, sensuous excitement of putting brush to canvas.
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