|'Shiro' Paul Behnke 32x30ins acrylic on canvas 2016|
|'City of Glass 55 - (A)' Ashley Hanson 25x30cms oil on canvas 2016|
When I posted this painting on Facebook recently, as a 'brick' in my recent City of Glass 38- (T.H.E.T.O.W.E.R.O.F.B.A.B.E.L.)', there was A Strange Occurence. After posting,a split-second later appeared this painting by New York artist Paul Behnke. with the uncanny similarity of the triangles. A further co-incidence was that when I made my piece, I'm sure I had been thinking about a Mali Morris painting that Paul had recently seen in Cuts, Shapes, Breaks and Scrapes, at Seventeen in London and posted on his Blog 'Structure and Imagery'
|'And Ashbery' Mali Morris 24x28cms acylic on wood panel 2013|
Seeing the paintings side by side made me think about our different approaches to painting and colour. In my work, I am happier with a context, my excursions into 'pure' abstraction proving to be a dead-end. The whole 'City of Glass' series is of course inspired by Paul Auster's novel 'The New York Trilogy' and in this painting the parameters were the the size and orientation of the canvas, a possible connection to the grid of Manhattan, and a choice of 'T' or 'A', the two remaining letters. That is where my triangle came from but the context goes hand in hand with formal considerations during the process.
I asked Paul about his triangle:
'For my part I'm not concerned with triangles as a form to work with. They come about more as a result of the process and a by product of the overall form I'm depicting. They are stylised elements within and part of that form'
I'm a great admirer of Paul's painting, the grandeur of their design and the scintillating colour. Again with colour, we have different approaches. In my own work, I am puritanical about the importance of mixing colour, finding colour. I asked Paul about his colour: 'what does colour mean to you? purely formal and instinctive? did I read somewhere that you prefer not to mix colour?'
'Yes, generally I don't mix. only rarely when I need something quick that I can't buy. I think color is all of that even in the same painting. Parts of a form's color can seem formal but color has the capacity to convey an over all mood. Since I have no color choices in mind when I start a piece a color choice is a reaction to a color previously applied - just like painting in general - I make a move then react for or against that move’
With different philosophies behind our art, it is how we use colour that provides the link, its criticality to the piece, sensually and formally, and our searching for those magical colour- relationships, each colour leading to the next....
|'City of Glass 38 - (T.H.E.T.O.W.E.R.O.F.B.A.B.E.L.)' Ashley Hanson 125x150cms 2016|
Appropriately, Paul's painting 'Shiro' is part of the IF COLOUR COULD KILL - New Painting from New York City exhibition, curated by Jeff Frederick, at the Salena Gallery, Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York which opens 5 April until 29 April:
'Abstract painting is a color delivery device. But when does color become dangerous, even homicidal? If Color Could Kill imagines a world better than the one we live in: one where color is power. The works of these eight painters say Yes in a way that is louder than everyday life. Modern pigments free the painter from the boring colors of nature. This is color too strong to be safely observed by the naked eye, color so intense it overwhelms and electrifies our fragile, vulnerable humanity'
Paul's work can also be seen in 'Drishti: A Concentrated Gaze' at 1285 Avenue of the Americas Gallery, New York. April 11 - July 1, 2016.