Spare room – Olivia Chamberlain
For her upcoming exhibition Spare room at City Art Depot, Olivia Chamberlain continues to explore how form, colour and composition interact upon the picture plane. She creates natural compositions through a methodical process of drawing, cutting and organising shapes, focussing her attention on the relationships between the forms and how they are arranged.
Chamberlain finds commonality between her works and those by Sonia Delaunay, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Louise Henderson and Etel Adnan – all artists who juxtapose blocks of colour to create harmonious compositions. As with these constructivist artists, Chamberlain takes cues from the world around her to form her colour palette: ‘combinations I’ve seen in other artworks, on walks, people’s outfits and in nature.’ In configuring her pieces, she takes into consideration how the pieces play off one another. The paintings invite the viewer to meditate on their precisely constructed contours and bold shapes.
Chamberlain exhibits great control over the darkening edges of the paint, where it dries and picks up the colours beneath. There is intrigue in following these subtle variations along the contours of her forms. Coming in close to the canvas, Chamberlain’s paint forms crisp textures where the paint meets the raised texture of the cotton she paints on. The structures appear as almost perfect casts or stamps, her hand only revealed by the slight ripple along an edge as her brush passes over a ridge in the material or in the tones that modulate with the translucency and weave of the painted surface.
Works on paper, a new addition for Chamberlain, demonstrate her command of the saturation of tones and overlaying of watery colour. They also act as affirmations of her carefully balanced compositions, guiding us around the shapes to the sharp touching points. Like blocks that can be assembled and rearranged, shapes are introduced, mingling with each other on the surface.
The pieces of Spare room satisfy the eye. They are settled, confident works. We come at them without any object being described to us. Instead, Chamberlain asks us to listen to the way her paint talks and the companions of shapes converse.
Spare Room opens 5.30pm on Tuesday the 11th of May and runs through to the 31st of May.