Two hundred and sixteen

History Painting

2010 by Francesca Simon
Central St Martins MA Show 2010;

Simon describes her work as setting the certainty of geometry against the physicality of gesture and it is this play of tensions that makes her paintings quite so powerful in their overall visual effect. History Painting is absorbingly provocative at the Central St Martin’s show; commanding attention not through the overt use of colour, but through the agitation of texture and shape. The surface of Simon’s canvas is never still, but a continuing migration of depth and layers; it is alive with changeability.  White seems to be etched on with a certain vigour, an anger, that leaves us literally feeling the effect of its materialisation. It appears layered on or gauged out of the material of the canvas, achieving a probing physicality. It this physicality that Simon has managed to translate from the physical nature of gesture and movement; pinning down its energy and drawing it in to her painterly two dimensionality. White is hard, bright and definitely obvious, carried by its purity of colour oppose to the greys and white dilutions that surround it. Colour then, the little that Simon gives, is poignant with its restraint – dark blue that agrees with the baseness of white and grey, together with an earthly red and orange. This is all in particular contrast to the block coloured shape that springs from this chaos of texture. Its angled stance gives it an element of movement, of elation, but it is the certainty of its straight sides, its geometric consistency, that confirms its separation from what surrounds. It provides a pleasing contrast, a reminder of tensions between the unpredictably physical and the mathematically stationary.


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