A wash in a void
This abstract painting exhibition features works by Pippa Killen. From a distance, the paintings look like a cross between paintings about window blinds, and stencil prints of tree bark. One may feel absolutely clueless when faced with subject matter-less paintings, titled in roman numbers such as “Void XXV” or “Void V”. The paintings are meditative and calming, and the scale well suited in many modest homes. These are like colour theory sanctified works – Blue – cool and receding, entry points into the picture-less unconscious, well camouflaged and protected.
The topic of ‘void’ and ‘emptiness’ is tricky to explain and understand in words. It comes as a ‘feeling’, an indiscernible loneliness or serenity, two sides of a coin. Through the works of American artist James Turrell, the lure of pure light comes close. In the form of installations, Thai artist Montien Boonma welcomes contemplation through herbal scent, and common objects, or the empty moulds used to cast Buddha sculptures. Here, Pippa attempts to mimic the fabric of textiles, the simplicity of weaving brushstrokes on linen to create a cacophony of meditations, like rosary beads used in a prayer.
Another tack to appreciate the work is to consider the minute concept of ‘contrast’, seen between bands of colour, as they weave themselves horizontally and vertically (curiously never diagonally) subtly layered texture done by scratching and scraping with tools. Are the valleys created, or the whiteness un-painted the void?
The colours used here are deliberately muted, or washed out, appearing old if we compare these to the bright, stark palettes of Thomas Yeo in the exhibition before this. As a result, laments the caretaker of the gallery, the paintings look old and dreary. And she has witnessed contemporary art in the gallery space for the past 15 years or more, so I do give her some credit. Perhaps the dreariness is the result of a an asynchronous colour scheme in the entire exhibition.
While this review is neither positive or negative, just like Pippa’s paintings are not bad or exciting, I hope isn’t took boring to read.
2 of 10 stars
Till March 27
The Substation Gallery