Andy Harper: Archaeology in Reverse: Newlyn Art Gallery 6 July to 28 September

Article excerpt

Brain functioning seems to be immanent in Andy Harper's twinned abstract paintings. The technique of hinging a painting to its doppelganger or ghosted image is repeated throughout the show. The method is about reflecting inherent neurological patterns of thought applied to painting and this process gains critical weight through the emergence of metaphor.

The admirably uninhibited and strange Glass Alba, 2011, stands out as a mindful and beautiful diptych. The original image, a vague insect-shaped portrait that suggests zany and exaggerated colourful floral shapes was mono-printed on to a second canvas. When peeled apart the surfaces must have had the quality of painterly sludge resulting in a thin printed image on the duplicate. Both paintings were then worked with brushes into their current state in a visual conversation. The face and eye regions take on the appearance of deep spatial thickets. Expanding eye openings are contoured by frond-like, wet-into-wet gestural painted marks, buds and smears. Likewise, the predominantly white-on-white double has gestural marks experienced in symmetry. It is possible to say that intricate pathways in Harper's mind have been extensively triggered by the symmetry, medium, method and memory, yet my inkling is that the inception and reception of these images is more than the sum of their neurological parts.

Centrally located in the exhibition space and carrying the title of the exhibition, several recent large canvases are joined together to form a zigzag structure similar to a folding Japanese screen. From each side of the screen we see the front of some of the paintings next to the backs of others, so that highly worked surfaces over mono-printed fragments are seen alongside the reverse surface of canvas and wooden frame. Again there is an abundance of plant forms, in this case integrated with architectural pattern, while vestiges of the early modernist abstraction of Futurism and Vorticism make these visually dynamic works. Around the walls, smaller rapidly made paintings composed of thin linseed oil washes, gestures and printed marks continue the visual doubling but the pairs are reshuffl ed so that the juxtapositions do not directly match up with a mother print. The overall effect is a room full of reflective comparative studies where remembered symmetries are visually rewarded as the viewer finds pieces of a complex puzzle by walking, turning and looking back.

Not surprisingly, the artist is also interested in the conceptual space and methods of artificial intelligence. …


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