Behind the Brushstroke at Camberwell College of Arts
Digital art and three-dimensional installations have transformed the way art is presented, sometimes causing the the artist’s touch to become lost. Behind the Brushstroke sets out to remind the viewer of the great significance of the artist’s physical, palpable input. Much more than a mere means to an end, the brushstroke channels the artist’s very energy to the viewer, transmitting fleeting feelings or lasting impressions simply through the choice of tone, the method of application or the pressure applied.
Four artists with very distinct styles explore this topic from different angles. Masahiro Suda’s fluid streams of colour are evocative of the abstract displays seen through the lens of a microscope. The exclusive use of one colour – a soothing shade of green – across all of his paintings gives the impression of a multi-step study in which the brushstroke is the subject. Although his paintings have names such as Scarecrow and Field, the artist seems less concerned with depicting identifiable representations, and more interested in capturing a sense of movement, zooming in on the colour’s journey and the trail it leaves behind as it blends into the canvas.
On the other side of the spectrum is Houran Yokoyama’s contribution. Coming from a family of calligraphers, he is fascinated by this ancient tradition and the way it was once performed, by candlelight. In semi darkness, one could not count on vision and had to rely on “the contact between paper and brush.” In his works, the Japanese characters are marked with such vigour that they seem to come alive with a sense of frenetic urgency.
The other two artists, Masaki Yada and Andrzej Zieliński, introduce bold colours and aesthetically striking figures. The former revisits traditional methods, such as sfumato, to depict modern subjects, whilst Zieliński plays with texture and layering.
The concept of the brush as a direct means of personal expression allows so much room for play that it is inevitable to feel that this exhibition only scratches the surface, offering but a small taster of the countless possibilities that could be explored. As a taster, however, it does whet the appetite sufficiently to provoke an interest in these artists’ creations and a desire to delve deeper into this subject.
The strength of this project is its focus on the very foundation of painting, the brushstroke, whilst using contemporary, innovative approaches. In some ways, it forges new openings for experimental artistic ventures rooted in the past and simultaneously projected into the future.
Behind the Brushstroke is at Camberwell College of Arts from 11th March until 10th April 2015, for further information visit here.