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  • Writer's pictureMarijke Vasey

The Painting in the Attic

Updated: May 4

There is a painting I have kept in the attic for a while now, not quite on view, but I am aware that it is there.

Fire Red

'Fire Red' Oil, Acrylic. Pouring Medium, Varnish and Spray-Paint on Panel, 50x40 cm, 2017

Is a piece from January 2017, when things in the studio took a wildly experimental turn. I was really delighting in what paint can do, exploring just how glossy I could make the surface and how red the red was.

The end result is a bit of a strange composition, but the painting has a... charge. Aura feels a bit pretentious for this red piece, but it has this kind of power.

A couple of different series of paintings followed what I ended up calling the Neon Grunge series. You can discover these, here and here on my site if interested.

So why do I keep it?

Granted there are some echoes of Dorian Grey, in keeping a painting in the attic, I shall however resist some strange analogy. The painting is not becoming uglier and redder as other paintings become more beautiful!

There isn't a formula for making a good painting, however for me, fundamentally for the work to be alive it needs a kind of exuberance or attitude. I love having Fire Red as a reminder to always try and combine materials in a way that animates them and makes them more compelling.

Cross Currents

Untitled and detail from 2022

It was in 2019 when I started on the frame paintings that this idea of a charge or atmosphere became more considered and playful.

Whilst some frame paintings conjure up landscapes, others function more like portraits. I like to think of some as having a persona. Due to inherent contradictions in their make-up, the paintings become more curious as different painting styles are juxtaposed and the decorative is pitted against these.

Smut Void

I have to admit, I hesitated before putting the previously secret name of this painting online, but that was the unofficial title of 'Untitled' from 2019, which is a large painting of 150x190 cm. And what fun is a blog if you don't let the reader into a few confidences?

The atmosphere is pure Rococo and the work is ultra-feminine. Due to iridescent pigment that is mixed with walnut oil and oil paint, the central gradient has a very velvety and creamy appearance. In other words it is really opulent and decadent and it feels like this atmosphere is turned up to the max in this painting.

Thinking of paintings as having a presence or an identity, at this point, I'd like to add in a favourite comment, someone has made about my work. Gabrielle de la Puente, from critic duo, The White Pube, visited the Goldsmith Degree Show in 2019 and said that standing next to the painting, she felt as proud as someone being photographed next to a lion in the zoo.

New Work

To take a look at what is happening in the studio at the moment, here is a painting I have just finished. It is currently untitled and will be shown at Galerie Hyperbien in Montreuil in June. I'm excited by how a renewed focus on abstraction is allowing a greater emphasis on the minimal elements. At the same time, as I am prepping for larger works, I keep that energy of Fire Red in my mind and consider how that can play a role in new work.

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