Philip Nicol & Michael Crowther
29/03/2012 – 27/04/2012
Most of these paintings construct places and spaces that we feel we should recognise and have perhaps already seen, if only momentarily. But probably not in this 'heightened', uncertain and dreamlike state. The ordinary, the quotidian, is hopefully charged and energised enough to take on another form or 'character'.
The urban 'scapes' are split into two distinct categories. First, there are nocturnes whose prime concern lies with luminous conditions of light and both the passing and suspension of time, of a still image that possesses a pulse. These depict that twilight time when natural light is dying and elecrtricity is switched on. This is a time when shape and space take different form. There exists, in my mind, a parallel with the cinema. Nearly all of these works have a strong lateral pull or pan, which arrests the image in a stressful way. This, together with the coloured emanation of light through the surface, or screen, or paint film, creates a considerable amount of their tension.
Secondly, there are the more direct depiction of apparently 'normal' urbanscapes, sometimes the backs and sides of residential buildings and others in which vacant lots have narrative potential. Although purportedly rooted in fact, they continue to play with fiction, both in the act and also the character of painting. For example, there is a double take in painting/rendering flat surfaces that are already painted and rendered (i.e. walls), some of which lie parallel to the picture plane, some of which are oblique. The composing and placing of these planes can sometimes construct an isolated or 'framed'area/space, very much like a painting within a painting.
Finally, there are the more recent interiors of museums. These continue with certain themes present in the previous work but develop this from on another 'angle'. They are concerned with the ground, plot, plan, and topography of place, but are also about elevation, floating, height and primarily distance, measure and, perhaps, ambiguity. By emphasising the nature of ground there is an odd connection or disconnection to space and picture plane. In this sense they are virtual.
- Philip Nicol
The still life paintings are made from direct observation, the objects being set up on a raised platform. I view and paint from a heavy easel a few feet from the motif with a further painting position on the wall, a couple of yards away. This involves a species of mobility which it seems I require. The paintings are made wet into wet, the motif remaining in place throughout.
For consecutive summers I was very generously given a large studio at Alayrac le Haut, in south west France, where I painted the same landscape from three separate windows. The painted rectangle was moved around and established inside a slightly larger panel and was completed wet into wet, after much erasure and adjustment throughout the day. At a later date the panels were cut down and attached to a chassis.
- Michael Crowther