from top: Daniel Sturgis 'The Social Question', Ian Davenport 'Puddle Painting (Yellow Lime Green Study)', Mark Francis 'Duality', installation view (sculpture to the right by DJ Simpson 'Isovist')
In a small but elegant gallery space, in a small but elegant courtyard behind Regent’s Street is a exhibition which demonstrates, in an equally restrained way, why abstract painting – after the clamour of Pollock and the silence of Minimalism - still has big things to say. Means Without Ends (at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery until February 18th) brings together four contemporary painters, Mark Francis, Ian Davenport, DJ Simpson and Daniel Sturgis, all working within the archetypal abstract tradition which privileges line – as both form and gesture – as the expression of a vital dynamism.
Each artwork, each line, is the articulation of its particular performative or gestural genesis: the syringing of paint down a wall (Davenport) or the routing grooves into sheets of metal (Simpson). But these are not the grandiloquent artistic contortions of Pollock above his canvas. Davenport’s ‘Puddle Paintings’ are the product of the irrepressible, indiscriminate precision of gravity, a flattening of artistic dynamism into physical constant. And Mark Francis’s canvases, which recall textbook drawings of cells, play on a graphic convention whereby life is abstracted and flattened by the stylised precision of the line.
Because the line, in addition to its rhythmic possibilities also has an equal and opposite function: it fixes, sets out, delineates. As well as mapping the pulse, in its base form it is the flatline, the nullification of the heartbeat, the expression of the most primal and inevitable stasis. Abstraction, where the object to be traced is less fixed, the edges less clear, has evolved through and as the tension of this contradiction.
Astute in its selection and composition, this show brings the four painters into a subtle dialogue with tradition and with each other.
Means Without Ends
until Feb 18th
Pippy Houldsworth Gallery
6 Heddon Street
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10h-18h. Sat 10h-16h.
from top: installation view, DJ Simpson 'Isovist', opening night