Private View: Wednesday 29 July, 18:30 - 21:00
Imagine a watch, each component crafted, polished and positioned by hand, using tools refined and perfected by a true master. A watch so exquisite it becomes time’s keeper rather than its teller. Everything is connected; if just one component is altered or removed, the hands of time will cease to turn.
Now imagine that power to escape time conjured with pure colours and simple forms.
The Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery in Berlin is delighted to present a selection of paintings by Richard Schur, one of the finest colour painters at work today.
As much a mediator as an architect of colour, Schur composes initial studies on a section of Masonite board, numerous layers of paint applied over a period of months, connections organically unearthed between as many as sixty rectangular colour fields. A rhythm builds, with the deep strength of an infinite number of relationships and the fragility of a piece of music dependent on every note for its success.
Success in this instance is independent life. Schur’s paintings tend to have single-word titles, which come to him easily once a composition begins to breathe on its own. For Schur, abstraction is a place – of collective and personal memories, experiences and emotions; not a rejection of the natural world, but a way of looking. Jungle, Victory, Mirages, Everything – the titles are superficially simple but packed with multiple layers of meaning. Held in such perfect balance, it takes a moment to realise how many colours and forms are at play on each canvas. When we look closer, the titles act as aids to navigation, helping us to enter complete, metaphorical worlds – a balanced eco-system and a place of cut-throat competition (Jungle), the sudden rush of victory and the slow-dawning realisation of its cost (Victory). The balance of colours is perfect, the hierarchy unstable. Details encourage detours. The viewer may become lost for a time, but a unifying rhythm beats with the steady reassurance of a resting heartbeat.
Whereas the study is spontaneous – a physical dialogue with colour, supported by a radical willingness to take risks – the final work is ‘perfect’. The fields do not overlap when Schur transfers a finished composition to canvas, fine-tuning the ‘colour sounds’ as he does so. Only a single layer of paint is applied, except where one or more fields are left blank, a textured ‘breathing space’ of raw canvas, a question rather than an answer: what exactly is created when colour – unsupported by narrative or painterly effects – is applied to a flat surface?
Everything provides a magnificent answer, a virtuoso demonstration of the extraordinarily rich worlds which can be created from pure colour and basic forms. Like music, colours trigger feeling. In Schur’s work, complex emotions and simple forms coalesce to create a new visual space in which to continue Art’s timeless pursuit of Truth – an impossible, romantic quest to achieve perfect clarity in a chaotic world – and a timely reminder of how irresistible the pursuit of the impossible can be.