Squaring the Circle might well win this year’s award for best title of an exhibition, cleverly referencing both the venue and the challenge of making paintings in a non-objective style.
The show features work by two Sheffield-based artists, Stephen Carley and Nick Grindrod. Each has developed an approach in which the artwork is led by the way materials behave, self-imposed parameters, intuitive mark-making and aesthetic decisions on colour, tone and form.
The results are striking. Grindrod’s paintings are the more immediate in both their making and their reception. His colour palette is higher than that of his colleague. Often the paint is pure colour, leaving no chance of it distracting us into thinking it might be referring to anything other than itself, and injecting high energy and dizzying movement, echoed in the occasionally gestural underpainting – a bold contrast of styles serving to keep the viewer on their toes. It is a celebration of the medium’s capacity to bring joy.
A Stephen Carley painting is quite a thing to get to grips with. At times poetic, closer interrogation reveals a raft of personal iconography – a ragged cross, possibly of masking tape, but also reminiscent of the plaster on Dennis the Menace’s knee. Is it a bandage for this wounded painting or for Painting in the greater realm? There are similar suggestions of mesh fencing and intriguing compartments of gestures amongst the many textures Carley creates with consummate paint-handling and accomplished technical experimentation with an array of unusual materials.