I remember Hockney waxing lyrical on the TV about the sensuous quality of the material and how the very act of dipping a brush into a paint pot had a satisfying feel to it. The painted mark in all its diversity and intentions connects in a very personal way with its audience. Here is part of the famous Leonardo comment about the power of the imagination when stimulated by the apparently random, implying there are as many ways to see as there are human beings:
The whole quote and I urge you to read it all, never fails to excite me. It provides an awesome glimpse into the universe of paint. Some are intimidated by the breadth of possibilities it implies, applying unnecessary rules and limits. I’ve come across abstract painters who won’t discuss their work with me because my particular painted abstractions represent something recognisable. The don’t believe they have anything in common and that I don’t understand abstraction. Brian Neish is enlightened, realising that he and I represent a range of differences and similarities pulled together by a breadth of shared experiences as painters, enabling us to discuss and enthuse about our good fortune at being painters … he the abstract painter, me the representational …
Part of my working discipline involves contemplating an area of a painting, without any regard to its intended purpose, and allowing my mind to consider it well, so that, to paraphrase Leonardo, I ‘may find really marvellous ideas’. It prepares my state of mind for the work ahead. This is the experience I have when looking at Brian’s work. He has taught me not to be so controlling and manipulative, not to be so reliant on skill, but to give time to examining a work in another way and become sensitised to is subliminal qualities … to let the marks and colours take me where they will. This is very much the view he takes with him when he tunes into his “Noble Decay” and roams around, seeing a universe in the things we may ignore as we go about lives defined by routine and order that have become accepted, taken for granted. To add the things he sees to our creative repertoire, gives us that moment of stillness when the usual narrative of our lives is suspended and we can allow an expressive and creative bridge to extend to a different world, another planet.
CHRIS HARDMAN, JANUARY 2016