East vs West: Celebrating the visual beauty of Thailand and Scotland.
Today is a very exciting day. We welcome to the gallery 14 shiny new works from the brilliant Michelle Campbell. It isn’t often that you can say with the deepest sincerity that this truly is a collection of unique, vibrant, and tantalizing paintings – that, my god, give us the shivers (in the best possible way). So, we’re going to give you a little introduction to a few of our favourites.
When an artist produces abstracted paintings, and yet describes their work as linking together landscape and memory, we instantly jump to the conclusion that their memory is faded or jumbled in some way. It seems to be the obvious connection between the memory of a place rendered in an abstracted form and style. However, that is not true for the work of Michelle Campbell, which is the first way in which she is a distinctive artist. She overtly states that her “memory is clear”, not faded; so, she plays with representation, abstraction, colour and form, to represent the “emotional and sensory experience of moments in [her] memory.” The result is this collection of bright and beautiful paintings that exist as “lasting impressions of [her] mind” as she has experienced the landscapes of Scotland and Thailand.
Balmaha at Dusk is one of Campbell’s three largest paintings in this exhibition. It demonstrates her approach to three central parts of her oeuvre: colour, geometry, and approach to her environment. Her use of colour in this work is rich and striking. It is plain to see which parts of the landscape before her caught her imagination. For example, the reflection of the sky in the water cuts across the board and permeates the scene with affecting force. Characteristic of Campbell is that her employment of colour is at once perfectly rich, yet pleasantly painterly. The result is that she is able to convey a whole spectrum of emotion simply by using colour and shape. The sky in this scene alternates between darkness and light, and – through her use of prism-like geometry – sharpness and painterliness. This seems to make the clouds pulsate in a stormy way, which amplifies the effect of her dramatic dusk sky. Thus, her fusion of colour and geometry leaves a lasting, visceral impression of her environment, that captures the aesthetic, experiential, and emotional dimensions of Balmaha at dusk.
As the title of this work suggests Sun Dance is a more experiential interpretation of her environment and her mind. Her use of this cube pattern has a paradoxical effect. On one hand, these shapes create a near-dizzying impression, as the eye is tricked into seeing the cubes as inverted, flat, and then pushed into three-dimensions – never taking one certain form. On the other hand, the cubes give the, otherwise abstracted, dissolving paint a solidity, through their geometrical shape. This paradox perfectly captures something as intangible, yet certain in her memory, as a ‘sun dance’. This may be the most powerful example of Campbell using geometric shapes to symbolically “contain each part of the memory” that she is articulating in paint.
Wish You Were Here is a fun painting to play with, because it is so distinctly performative. If you close your eyes, whilst looking at the painting, and open them again, the line of three-dimensional squares will surge forward, and almost fly out of the board. Then, the smoky image of a mountain peak fades into view. These images then seem to alternate, never settling on one over the other. Through oil and board alone, Campbell has produced a ‘moving’ scene, which exists in multiple dimensions. If this isn’t enigmatic enough, then the title adds a whole other layer to the scene. The statement ‘wish you were here’ ignites a certain mystery – who’s ‘you’? Where’s ‘here’? – it is tantalizing…
So – thank you for reading – we really hope that you’re as excited by this stunning collection as we are! We’ll be revealing all at 2pm on Saturday the 8th of September, so please swing by the gallery and join us for a drink and a good old stare.
To reserve any of Michelle’s pieces, drop us a line at [email protected], or call us on 01413392834.