copyright anthony viney
When I make marks on canvas they often form into rhythms that run across the surface of the work. These rhythms are fundamental to the creation of the colours and spaces in my paintings. Only when the rhythms are right do the colour harmonies and spaces begin to work properly. It seems to me that we humans experience a strong connection between rhythm and movement and the experience of colour and space. At least, that’s how it feels when I’m painting!
When I visited Australia recently I was intrigued to find a similarity between the mark-making in my paintings and some of the indigenous art I saw in galleries and museums. I felt there was something of great interest for me here – and it was to do with letting the mark-making tool (be it a paint stick, finger or brush) leave its particular trace in the paint rather than trying to copy or fabricate the look and texture of other things. I believe the eye can easily and sensitively detect the unique shape and form of any tool used in a painting from the trace it leaves in the paint – so allowing the tools and materials to speak for themselves and impart a variety of meaning to the viewer is very important in this kind of painting. Looking at this indigenous art also highlighted how the spaces and marks I create in my work are playful and explorative and come and go depending on the need of the painting – rather than any need to depict a conceptually complete space as many traditional western paintings do. The explorative type of space I’m interested in is more akin to aerial mapping and the surveying of geological structures – a concept which I now know has resonances with indigenous Australian art. It was intensely exciting to cross the globe and discover a pre-European painting tradition with parallels to my own practice and to sense that for some while I had been tapping into a universal visual language.
We can all participate in the sensation of viewing a painting and being immersed in a rich and dense experience without actually recognising anything tangible. This abstract language is one of the things I explore in my work. Even so, it’s also an important part of my practice to produce work that carries strong emotional resonances and at least the semblance of a representational connection with places. Using intuitive geometry and gestural marks to evoke – rather than describe – my visual sensations has freed me to explore more fully the physical locations I’m most drawn to.