John Kiki exhibition, Norwich

Old themes with a new uncertainty characterise John Kiki's darkly joyous paintings exhibited until August 31 at Frames, in St Giles' Street, Norwich.

By IAN SUTTON

Old themes with a new uncertainty characterise John Kiki's darkly joyous paintings exhibited until August 31 at Frames, in St Giles' Street, Norwich.

He has exhibited worldwide, most recently in New York. But such apparent success does not render Kiki complacent and repetitious.

For sure, the old Minoan-like profiles remain evident and the bow-backed horses still prance exuberantly. But there is much that is cut and pasted from other, presumably unsatisfactory paintings, lending a new dimension of texture and uncertainty.

There are a large number of heads on show here. But his technique of linear dribbling is so exuberant that it would be difficult to fit much more than a head on such small canvases.

In some cases paint is pulled, pushed and tortured with scant regard for the niceties and authority of technique. But then, Kiki is not a “safe” painter. In the unpasted Small Head 1, there is a jewel-like clarity in the glowing washes of reds and greens. But the comic expression denies us that calm introspection that some believe a painting should necessarily instil.