438 Kingsland Road
For his first exhibition at the gallery, Coughlan creates a new series of paintings marked by a sense of physicality in paint, as well as a striking fusion of addition and subtraction, his densely layered oeuvre underlines the artist’s fascination with the evolution of painting.
The work is created by overlaying image and paint, each unique layer representing a distinct history in terms of content, form and materiality, resulting in a gestural surface burnished with shimmering strata of thick pigment that resemble smooth slabs and tie-dye, their facture near tangible to the viewer. The surfaces of the works trigger chromatic vibrations and optical misconceptions. Multiple perspectives and after-images emerge and recede with tributaries feeding and looping back into one another, giving rise to a new and complex visual lexicon, rooted in the canon of abstract painting.
Coughlan’s recent work reveals a distinct engagement with composition, agency and intention, confronting abstract expressionistic analogies with the use of different effects, procedures and materials. The layering of pigment in the paintings complicates the distinction between areas of colour and line, generating a sense of uncertainty to the identity of each.
Surfaces absorb light and reflect it unevenly, keeping the viewer mobile via optical instability while figurative forms in the foreground create a paradoxical sense of space. While abstract, the works are still illusionistic, and shadows, gradations of colour, a sense of movement, variations between light and darkness, rippling waves, canvas grain, and reverberating contours are evoked in the palette and surfaces of the artist’s multi-faceted practice.
Rian Coughlan (b. 1981, Cork). Lives and works in London. Coughlan studied at the Royal Academy, London (2013-2016). Recent exhibitions include STRIPES, SHAPES AND POSSIBLY SNAKES (solo), Chalton Gallery, London, 2019; Night Out, Chalton Gallery,London, 2018; Royal Academy Degree Show, RA Schools, London, 2016; Premiums Interim Projects, The Royal Academy, London, 2015; A Union of Voices, Horatio Jr., London, 2014-15; Forced Exposure, The Black Mariah, Cork, 2013; Perp (solo), The Black Mariah, Cork, 2013; Difficult Walking (solo), The Black Mariah, Cork, 2011; Salon 2011, Broadstone Studios in collaboration with The Black Mariah, Dublin, 2011; Terminal Convention, Cork Airport, Cork, 2011.