3 Barclay Terrace
Overlap sees the return to Upright Gallery of Annalisa Merrilees and Debbie Mountain. Both have an interest in abstract painting that employs the use of repetition and the ‘push/pull’ of control and chance. Both are comfortable using underlying grids as a starting point that, during the course of painting, subtly break down to display not only the inherent qualities of paint but also the ‘frailties’ of the human hand.
Annalisa Merrilees paintings are, for her, a deeply personal experience. Her process derives from an interest in the mental limits of the body and the subsequent physical effects as her paintings are delicately painted over a long period of time. Merrilees’s work appears at first to be made mechanically but are actually the product of a careful hand. There is a visible struggle between control and chaos, which comes from Merrilees’ monomaniacal tendencies. Typically, each piece has a set of routines that must be followed and completed in as close to one sitting as possible. The use of a random number generator to allocate colours to the base grid allows the painting to begin its life illogically. By removing herself from this responsibility, it initiates a dialogue and set of problems, which she then responds to. Lately Merrilees’ approach has diverted away from such stark, harsh grids in search of more organic forms and movement. The random and deliberate actions come together to create a sufficient formal balance within the work.
Debbie Mountain is inspired by minimalism, her work is self-referential and attempts to eschew the urge to be driven by ‘emotion’ or represent ‘something’. However, Mountain’s art is one of a joyful exploration of the material qualities of paint and surface. Each painting draws the viewer in to explore the texture and detail contained within. For this exhibition she has swopped her signature ‘paint pyramids’ for something flatter, while, at the same time, retaining a three-dimensional quality through the use of the canvas edges, creating a ‘wrapped parcel’. Each painting unavoidably invites human error as they unfold and, for Mountain, seem to create the feeling of her almost being an observer she paints. The result is often created unintentionally by the materials but chosen intentionally by the artist.