Curated by Karolina Albricht and Gabriela Giroletti
Thames-Side Studios Gallery, Warspite Road, London SE18 5NR
Andrea V WrighT
Thoughts On The Horizon: Form and Colour, Phil King
There are names for groups: a ‘Flock of Seagulls’, a ‘Herd of Bison’, a ‘Murder of Crows’. Maybe we can describe a group of artists as a ‘Ship of Artists’. Those who have gathered themselves together for this show certainly initially got on board the notion of a kind of boat, most specifically the idea of a two hulled catamaran type, and they’re fuelled up ready to set sail on the ambitious basis of a unity of form and colour. The slogan ‘I see form through colour and colour as form.’ is nailed to the mast. Colour, that engaging wind, with all the force to hold a solitary raft together, a force amongst forces, all engineered to approach the speed of light as it pushes across unknown oceans, filling the canvas, pulling everything along. As with all art, ambition forms a kind of overall unifying matrix – in this case a shared aspiration at one with the whole form of the momentum that it propels. Form is the unity of the whole apparatus, challenged by and made up of all the forces in play. It is the entire horizon as well as the boat itself, but, and here’s the rub, it’s the thing that the driving force of the twin hulls continually takes us beyond.
The little double-ship’s sails are moulded within horizon lines bombarded by contradictory forces: social, political, physical. Colour too can be conceived in terms of its push or its pull. Chance gusts impact from within and without. The bolts holding it all together strain and shear. In the boat log the sentence ‘Form in art engages with our unconscious as much as our consciousness’ is carefully written out longhand. The possibility of leaving home for distant ports infects our dreams. Complementary contrasts can actually torque and twist the very horizon itself, even if their impact be a mere whisper across the waves.
When one of our artists notes that, in the colourful world that is raced through and on whose deck they stand, there is only ‘an association of coordinate points more or less well coordinated’, maybe they are speaking of the stars by which we are supposed to navigate,
like a shipmate who ‘understands form as a structure which brings a renewing implicitness of meaning and emotion into existence’. Such collected sentences feel like a set of runes cast into the face of a threatening weather front. If the unlikely, mutable nature of form is part, in fact, of its resistant nature, can we think of it as resisting the force of colour, imagine form and colour defining a physics, creating a motivational motor together? A power that some amongst them characterise, and indeed create, as the overall power of painting itself, but which is also no actual power at all. As a rule force and form also work divided and powerless. Right from the starting line the drive of such unified division is part of all things: ‘Through the varying of opacities and the application of veils of white gesso the forms engage in a play of presence and absence, substance and shadow.’ A playful engagement that can at times create a sense of containing life itself, a juggling of the life that we inhabit and the one that inhabits us, like a memory.
A catamaran is an ancient design, repurposed and refined to race across the Atlantic, or any other lonely ocean. Each member of this temporary crew strives to create something memorable, the vulnerability of a resistant form that feels as if it arrives from within, driven by colour.