Metamorphosis and flow: Orlanda Broom debuts powerful abstract show Shapeshifters at Grove Square Galleries
British contemporary artist Orlanda Broom has this week announced a solo showing of her new work, opening on 16th June at Grove Square Galleries. Known for her highly chromatic, surreal landscape paintings, Broom presents a new direction in Shapeshifters, a powerful collection of abstract pieces in vibrant resin.
Having studied and worked in Barcelona until 2012 (when she returned to the UK to create full-time from her London studio), Broom’s main painting practice now takes two distinct forms: rich landscapes and lively abstract pieces (Shapeshifters falling into this latter category). Both bodies of work communicate her strong sense of colour, with references to organic forms and a curiosity about the mediums she works with.
The British artist is perfectly placed to show at Grove Square Galleries, Marylebone, which opened in 2020 to celebrate the very best of contemporary art. Their exciting exhibition programme, merging digital materials and immersive art experiences, includes a distinguished roster of fine art innovators. Broom is part of a new generation of artists reimagining the genre of abstraction, whereby labels aren’t important. These creators are more interested in the science behind the medium, harnessing application and techniques to develop expressive and compelling compositions. It’s a school of thinkers devoted to the exploration of pushing the boundaries of colour, medium and light to communicate the power of movement and fluidity.
Broom’s approach to the abstract art in Shapeshifters is quite different to the meticulous layering process behind her revered landscapes. “I surrender to the fluidity of the composition while organic forms appear with immediacy,” she says. As the resin starts to set, shapeshifting from a fluid to a solid state, Broom is on-hand, fascinated by the process and its organic evolution to a finished work. “It’s quite intense and pressured,” she says. “Decisions must be made instantly because I am working with varying factors, including temperature, surface and fluidity, so there’s an element of risk.”
The title of this exhibition evokes the idea of transience and the mysterious and elusive quality of what means to exist. In Shapeshifters, Broom quite literally is the “shape shifter”, as the creator of the metamorphosis, capturing the movement and warping of resin on her canvas, and giving life to creations bursting with explosive dynamism, fluid shapes and playful colour.
In her techniques, Broom is inspired by the action paintings, or gestural abstraction, of abstract expressionists, including Jackson Pollock and Arshile Gorky, the specific processes involved being instrumental in the creation of the paintings. “Working in this way gives me the freedom to work quickly and dynamically, at one with the movement of the resin and also at the whim of the material. I have an understanding of how the medium will flow, but I’m only in control to a certain extent, as the flow of the resin and merging colours have so many variables.” The colour and the form of the work continue to evolve and change as the resin spreads, and, for Broom, “to see this transition from one state to another is exciting.” The resin sets quickly and the metamorphosis is complete.
The exhibition offers a kind of escapism, transporting the viewer through the play in the paintings with light and vivid colour. The undefined, organic forms that emerge from the process invite independent interpretation from the viewer – a common feature of abstract, expressive works. Broom is inspired by the idea of her audience finding their own meaning in her shapeshifting works, saying: “I’m interested in the interpretation of abstract works. I enjoy that people respond and read the paintings in their own way. I like making space for the personal, subjective response of the viewer.”
“I have a strong desire to allow the viewer their own flow of thought,” says Broom. The flexible nature of the resin is just the beginning of the way her nebulous forms continue to change in the mind’s eye: “Each work is intended to be ambiguous, almost like Rorschach test, reflecting feelings, attitudes, floral, fauna and movements.”
Each of these abstract paintings defines a poetic journey, shapeshifting in the viewer’s consciousness long after they are considered set and complete, immortalising seemingly fluid form, memories and emotions in hardened resin.
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Shapeshifters is on at Grove Square Galleries from 16th June until 30th July 2022. For further information or to book visit the gallery’s website here.