Martin Battye: Abstracts from the Coast
King of Hearts, Fye Bridge Street, Norwich
The sea and river estuaries provide inspiration for all the works in this exhibition. There is also a concern to express the phenomena created by the changing qualities of light on waterscapes.
Using visual language to describe the atmospheric effects of dusk, the thickly applied and heavily saturated oils in Too Dark to See the Landmarks II thwart natural colour harmony. The fragmented geometric shapes and seemingly arbitrary colour choices stem from Martin's desire to convey the sensation of viewing rather than depict a particular vista. The result is a distilled essence.
By contrast, the naturalistic and descriptive seascape Holkham has a linear structure that is simple yet lyrical. Random cuts underscored into the board have the effect of visually slowing down the bottom half of the composition, complimenting the broad brush marks used in the deep blue sky that deceive the eye into seeing movement.
Whilst the viewer is encouraged to identify with some of the titles, there is also another agenda at play. Sitting within a painted frame North Sea forces the viewer to acknowledge it is a representation. And From Dunwich uses the technique of self-consciously floating the central image onto the canvas to objectify the painting as an independent construction.
Martin avoids a prescriptive approach, and there is an economy of means in the painting Holkham at night , with the acrylic applied so sparingly that the priming surface treatment is clearly visible. So although the pieces are all abstract, the very familiarity of the subject matter affords them an accessible resonance.
The exhibition continues until November 22.
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