That the world can be somewhat unforgiving to young artists is only too well acknowledged. This makes the latest show at Ocean Studios all the more refreshing; a joint exhibition between two art graduates, ‘144’ is testament to the importance of emerging creative minds. The artists, Andrew Meredith and Luke Walder, present entirely new bodies of work, produced since graduating last year. Predominately based in painting, the exhibition introduces their formative artwork created outside of academia and confirms the continuing potential of each artist.
The title ‘144’ was borne out of the compass degree upon which the building falls. Visibly translated, the compass line is faintly chalked along the floor of the exhibition and there for those who notice it. Such subtlety is a trait shared with the surrounding paintings, which refuse to overwhelm the viewer upon entering. This refusal is no failure upon the power of the work, but a successful demonstration of how art can relate harmoniously to the surrounding space. The exposed walls and stone-riddled floor of the open room are complemented by the warm colour palettes and structural forms composed on canvas. Through the symbiotic relationship between art and space ‘144’ works triumphantly as a unit, which additionally invites its audience to step closer and observe each painting in its own right.
Each artist’s work largely pertains to separate sides of the room, with collaborative pieces dispensed intermittently. Both Meredith and Walder create stripped-back and minimal environments, making space a further point of focus within their own work. The subjects of Walder’s paintings are heavily distilled into pure and bold forms. It is a daring style, one which assigns the few shapes a marked significance and renders them integral to the canvas. Yet the striking instances of shape and colour are balanced by an underlying softness. In one painting, the intensity of blue and red dissolves into faint glimpses in the layer beneath. This lends a depth to each painting, creating what seems like a veil and igniting a desire in the viewer to see further. The colours of Meredith’s work become more dusky and dream-like. His paintings contain a variety of shades which render the scenes within them distinctly atmospheric. From a distance, the composition of colours initially look like block-arrangements. Take a step closer, however, and find the seemingly harsh environments soften and combine. The colours do not dictate separate areas of the canvas, but merge and trickle quietly, rather sublimely, into one another.
Presented together, the paintings of both artists complement and connect - they are not just in dialogue with the surrounding space but with one another. Testament to their closely cooperative process are the pieces created in collaboration. One is a painting titled ‘Catalogue’, a visual listing of the everyday mundane reimagined in vivid terms, whilst the other is captured in an entirely different medium altogether. A video in one corner of the exhibition shows a loop of the two artists swinging on a hand-made see-saw, which motionlessly hangs from the ceiling on the opposite side. With its inclusion the show possesses a playful quality and, more importantly, it signals the innovation of the artists, unafraid to tread new territory and experiment with what may be found upon doing so.