SURFACE TEXTURE & THE EXPRESSIVE by Brian Neish (July 2019)7th August 2019
It’s an honour to be writing this introduction for Brian’s White Series. I have long admired his work. Brian often works in series and brings together bodies of work where there is a thread of continuity and yet each painting is uniquely different. He continually layers and adds paint, there is no process of scraping back or discarding material. As such there is a sense of abundance, inclusivity and love in his work. In a recent exhibition, Colour & Form, at Gallerytop in Derbyshire, Brian exhibited his jewel-like series Colourscapes. No colour palette was omitted from these very different multi-coloured canvases. He even used colours to which he is not particularly drawn – another abstract expression of Brian’s inclusivity.
In the White Series, however, the focus is on the overlaying of white paint. This connects and links other colours into a more holistic framework. The luminous white paint harmonises any colour contradictions. Every colour has its place yet the use of white illuminates the presence of each. The White Series’ use of white paint encourages us to abandon ideas of separation and instead allow ourselves a more whole experience of life.
Transcendence & Harmony
On first viewing this work, I was reminded of blossom and recalled the insightful words of Dennis Potter. Before he died of cancer Potter remarked on seeing ‘the blossomest of blossom that there ever could be’. Potter experienced life as being ‘absolutely wondrous’. Brian’s paintings also celebrate life. They celebrate – Nowness. In contemplating the White Series, and especially by viewing one small piece and moving to another and back again, I experience a sense of transcendence and harmony.
Sustained viewing can bring about a restorative quality and made me think of Eastern Mandalas – a tool for contemplation and reflection. In traditional mandalas there is a central point around which other images are organised. All have significance. The central point is a synthesis of all the other elements. Together there is unity and a representation of the nature of existence. Brian’s use of framing is interesting in this work. The frame preserves experience. Frames contain. Frames present the artwork. Yet within the White Series frames are variously used to draw attention to framing itself. In some works, it’s unclear where boundaries lie.’ Jaded’ and ‘Keepsake’ have clearly defined frames within the pieces themselves. The painting ripples out beyond the inner framing into the space beyond the canvas. The subtle frame in ‘Enigma’ is intriguing and suggests a sense of sublimation.
Time & Space
The White Series seems to be a conversation between time and space. Brian’s love of decay and transience of buildings, especially the painterly surfaces of doors and walls, is clearly apparent. His layering of paint creates its own organic life where past surfaces are seen through present surfaces. There is space and an open quality where the viewer can develop a relationship with the paintings. In such a busy world this allows us the time to stop, breathe and contemplate.