LondonEric Butcher: Sweet Heresy
Patrick Heide Contemporary Art presents Sweet Heresy, Eric Butcher’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.
Best known for his process-based highly coloured abstract paintings on aluminium, Butcher takes this opportunity to surprise the viewer with an expanded range of works across multiple media and different cycles, which encompass the last few years.
Recurring elements of the artist’s practice are still clearly identifiable in spite of their evolution into novel outcomes. There are the multiple layers of transparent monochrome paint scraped across their aluminum support, the layers of image carriers that he sets into dialogue with one another – from shifted panels reminiscent of concrete art to panel combinations of painted and raw aluminum – and of course the fragmented layers of his works on paper. A wide range of these exploratory and experimental paper works are presented in the show, offering an insight into the artist’s increasingly rich and complex creative thought.
The play with opposing elements such as fragile and solid, haptic and slick is a characteristic seen through all manifestations of his work, as is the permanent dialogue between his articulated surfaces and their surrounding architecture. Butcher is permanently working with and against the ‘push and pull’ of the space around the painted surface.
In recent works there is a shift from the artist’s familiar vocabulary of purely minimal geometric marks to surfaces that show more organic shapes and forms. These organic traces are accomplished by a new set of tools that have been introduced – a series of simple window cleaner’s squeegees – in addition to the familiar metal blades that have been used for many years. The result though is determined by similar factors: the movement of the artist’s hand and body, the nature of the support, the pressure exerted as well as the condition and characteristics of the metal or rubber tool. This last element has become particularly significant:
‘Over years of use the stripping blades [and squeegees] exhibit signs of wear and tear or develop subtle accretions of paint along their edges. Each painted surface holds within itself the traces and evidence of the manufacture of each previous surface. It contains within it the ‘memory’ of every act of stripping away’. (Eric Butcher, Time Trial, 2019)
The ‘heresy’ of the exhibition title alludes to the artist’s rejection of the overt political or social messaging of much contemporary art. While rich in implications and meaning, Butcher’s art is not didactic. It is rigorous, post-minimal, aesthetically ambitious but surprisingly ‘human’. And, as this exhibition proves, his work stems from a methodology, relentlessly pursued and without any compromises.
The exhibition opening will coincide with the release of Time Trial, a newly published 160-page hardback catalogue of Butcher’s recent work.
Courtesy of the artist and Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London