O L I V E R

 

C R O W T H E R

 

dead babies, forgotten landscapes

 

4 APRIL - 16 MAY

Choice in the moments of artistic process can often be a thing of spontaneity or intuition. Sometimes it is a compulsive regurgitation of clichés. But the questioning of choice and decision-making impels a point of reflection that demands an answer or justification to the visual artistic process. It offers the opportunity to be genuine and it upholds the integrity of an artist. Oliver Crowther asserts his choice over the works that comprise his new show at the blackShed gallery in a manner that plays on the balance between restriction and freedom. His miniature aluminium plates, that contribute two thirds of the show, are hard edged and highly manufactured, they are a product of industry that is controlled and exact, and they inhabit a finite area that floats away from the wall as singular objects. Within these confines Crowther allows his oil paint to command a purpose, each mark is applied liberally with a freedom that enables the medium to contribute its own organic movement, in an effort to explore the reasons of attraction to the original found photographic images that have inspired this series. The artist's purposeful use of over large brushes necessitates selectiveness in his strokes so that each line is considered and 

justified and the images are relieved of unnecessary detail. The marks must justify their presence individually and contribute to the narrative collectively, and those without purpose are removed. The marks that remain lay bare the attraction that interested the artist, highlighting the line or shape, colour or composition that best expresses the artist's intention. This collection holds a likeness to the Synthetism style created in the late 19th Century by the pioneering artists of Pont-Aven, including Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, who began to move away from the popular impressionist movement of the time; Crowther's paintings are distinguished by their abstracted representations as a progression of this style.

 

'Dead Babies' juxtaposes the conflicting emotions of new birth and past life. It is contrary to delight in the beauty of new life and expectant potential when the lives before us are already lived and most probably spent; we are looking at death but thinking of life. The consideration of a contradiction is also evident in a conflict between theme and process, the mechanical production of the photographic image and the cutting of the aluminium plates are emotionless and exact, where as the human subjects and the fluidity of Crowther's oil express the excitement of true emotion that identifies these works as visceral expressions and validates their integrity. The openness of expression combined with the diminutive size of the plates, which compels the audience to stand within close proximity of the work, creates a show full of unusually intimate moments that gradually reveal the narrative of Oliver Crowther's insightful exhibition.