Monday, February 23, 2015

Painting as Paradox

“How do you want to live your life, and what does that look like?”
Clayton Colvin

Reading is a favored pass time for the Birmingham, Alabama based American abstract artist Clayton Colvin. As he told The Curating Contemporary Blog last year “I just closed a show at the University of Montevallo where I included a lot of the books I had read over the last year to make that [their influence] clear. Art students feel pressure to read theory and art history, and that’s great, but it is a big world. I like fiction. I like writers who open up my thinking more. I read a lot during the summer especially. It is hot here. Being still is advisable.” The writing of Kelly Link is a significant influence, about which Colvin says “Her writing has a way of expanding and contracting that I really respond to, and I saw that plasticity as analogous to the way I think about painting.”

A second interest is sport, with his child’s soccer exploits being of particular concern. It’s an activity which also infiltrates Colvin’s work. “Patterns are really interesting to me. A lot of my visual language comes from my experience with field vision and the game of soccer or football. Players are naturally good or trained to read things in their periphery and anticipate events in space. So, creating space through unlocking patterns and exploiting breaks or lapses is a way I like to think of the technical act of painting,” he explained.

But drawing is the pivotal aspect of Colvin’s multimedia creations. The gallery director of the Eichold Gallery, Wanda Sullivan, said of his work “The paintings actually remind me of giant sketchbook pages. There is‘immediacy’ about them that I particularly admire.”

A sentiment shared with Artforum’s Rowan Ricardo Phillips, who wrote “At times, painting seems to give way to drawing, and at other times, drawing seems to give way to painting. Erasures and additions reveal and conceal other layers, complicating ideas of before and after, original and addition, right side up and upside down. The paintings thrive in paradox: They can seem crowded and full of movement, a sense of unsettled energy populating their spaces; after sustained viewing, however, a calm and measured contemplativeness saturates the canvases. The paintings seem to move when you don’t look at them and stand still when you do - each striving to represent both the noise in which contemporary life finds itself ensnared, and the quiet meditation that can free it.”

Colvin’s current exhibition New Way to Forget is on show at Birmingham’s Beta Pictoris Gallery until the 27 of March.

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