Friday 8 October 2010

Surprising and lovely

There's nothing better than going into a gallery and being surprised.

Last weekend I was completely taken by Geoff Thornley's current show at Mark Hutchins Gallery. I loved these paintings because, without being aggressive or showy, they give your eyes a lot to do.

Geoff Thornley, No.8. Chronicle, 2010. Oil on canvas on board, 167.5 x 167.5 cm. Image from the Mark Hutchins Gallery website.

Usually when I think of Thornley I think of classic hard-edged works, like Construction #11 - Tondo (1981) in Te Papa's collection.

What captured me about the new works is their rhythm, the controlled dance of the paint over the toothy canvas. The two small works appealed most to me, especially Notion, where the paint is slightly off centre, like a print that's gone off register, leaving a strip of canvas exposed.

Geoff Thornley, No.9. Notion, 2010. Oil on canvas on board, 49.5 x 49.5 cm. Image from the Mark Hutchins Gallery website.

That photo also shows the beautiful construction work that lies behind the paintings. Looking through the web, I can see how these recent works evolved - going back to Birds Chatter #3 (2007), or even further back to Albus no. 13 (1974).Yet these paintings, with their (tender, not in the least sickly) roses and lavenders, sky blues and creams, feel fresh and full of light and energy. Highly recommended.

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