Private View: Thursday 8th of December 6:30 - 9pm
London (London Bridge)
‘In visual perception a colour is almost never seen as it really is – as it is physically is. This fact makes colour the most relative medium in art.’ – from Interaction of Color, Josef Albers
The German artist Richard Schur uses colour to carry and transport emotions. Drawing on references from early modernism as well as the natural world, he strives to unite the clarity and precision of hard-edged painting with the transcendental expression of colour through the creation of vivid, abstract environments. His latest solo exhibition, Edge of Abstraction at Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery, London Bridge, presents a series of ‘sculptural paintings’ in which the artist expands his investigations beyond the strict confines of a square canvas to create poetic, idiosyncratic forms. Like fragments of a musical composition, these new works appear as radiant, pulsing iterations, each offering a distinct, self-contained encounter while also resonating on a more universal level.
While in the past Schur has painted blocks of colour onto canvas to evoke rhythmic interactions between different hues, his sculptural paintings explore how the structure of an image and our bodily relationship to the work transform our perception of colour. What happens, for example, when a circle of red is not only spliced apart by shades of pink, blue and yellow, but also structurally altered so as to appear cut-out or incomplete? While our imaginations might strive to fill in the gaps, to locate ‘full’, familiar forms, Schur’s compositions of overlapping colours seem to shift before the gaze, preventing us from locating any stable sense of beginning or end. We are invited, instead, to sit in the uncertainty, to see what might arise from not-knowing.
The shapes, says Schur, ‘act as a kind of stage that contains and supports the interactions of colour’ while the colours are ‘portals into transcendental feelings’ and the tension between the two is essential. From a front-on perspective many of the surfaces appear flat and two-dimensional while in others we are able to glimpse the thick, black edges of the cut-out material, the sculptural body of the work. Meanwhile, the layers of colour, though fully opaque, interact with one another to create an appearance of lightness and translucency. In this way, Schur creates an interplay between not just light and shadow, but also materialities and depth, lending the pictorial space a shimmering, almost kinetic quality. At the same time, the precise graphical lines and physicality of the work serve as tethers to the tangible world, or navigational tools that guide the gaze. ‘The idea is that the viewer can lose themselves but they should also always be able to get back in,’ Schur explains.
In many ways, this also reflects Schur’s approach to making art. He describes his use of colour as intuitive in the sense that the combinations or tones he chooses to work with are a reflection of his mood and the light on a particular day, and yet the painting process itself is highly controlled. ‘Through painting I am always seeking some certainty: everything decided, everything in its place,’ he says, while also admitting that, beyond his own perception, this is an inevitably impossible pursuit: with each new encounter, the work is remade. Nevertheless, the choreography between colour, space and form remains – it is what allows us see beyond the physical surface into a more fluid, visceral realm.