For her exhibition Spare room at City Art Depot, Olivia Chamberlain continues to explore how form, colour and composition interact upon the picture plane. She creates natural compositions through a methodical process of drawing, cutting and organizing shapes, focusing her attention on the relationships between the forms and how they are arranged.
Chamberlain finds commonality between her works and those by Sonia Delaunay, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Louise Henderson and Etel Adnan – all artists who juxtapose blocks of colour to create harmonious compositions. As with these constructivist artists, Chamberlain takes cues from the world around her to form her colour palette; ‘combinations I’ve seen in other artworks, on walks, people’s outfits and in nature.’ In configuring her pieces, she takes into consideration how the pieces play off one another. The paintings invite the viewer to meditate on their precisely constructed contours and bold shapes.
Chamberlain exhibits great control over the darkening edges of the paint, where it dries and picks up the colours beneath. There is a certain intrigue in following these subtle variations along the contours of her forms. Coming close to the canvas, Chamberlain’s paint forms crisp textures where the paint meets the raised surfaces of the cotton she paints on. The structures appear as almost perfect casts or stamps, her hand only revealed by the slight ripple along an edge as her brush passes over a ridge in the material or in the tones that modulate with the translucency and weave of the painted surface.
Works on paper, a new addition for Chamberlain, demonstrate her command of the saturation of tones and overlaying of watery colour. They also act as affirmations of her carefully balanced compositions, guiding us around the shapes to the sharp touching points. Like blocks that can be assembled and rearranged, shapes are introduced, merging with each other on the surface.
Spare room is a settled and confident series of new works with Chamberlain asking us to listen to the way her paint talks and the companions of shapes converse.
Olivia Chamberlain, Spare Room
City Art Depot
96 Disraeli Street
Opens Tuesday 11th of May, 5.30 to 31st May.
- Olivia Chamberlain, Sidewalk 2, 2021, acrylic and flashe on cotton