LondonReef Hsu: A Forest Seen From Space
Pontone Gallery presents its first exhibition of Taiwanese painter, Reef Hsu, an experienced artist with an international reputation and award-winning pedigree. This is an exclusive opportunity to experience a fascinating body of work, which ranges from densely-packed and meticulous drawings to intense and atmospheric oil paintings.
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The exhibition divides into two areas of practice: the figurative and the abstract. The drawings are graphic depictions of natural forms and animals, juxtaposed in tightly-wrought and crowded compositions. Hsu’s paintings are schemas of diffuse pastel, colour articulated by a subtly-textured paint film.
The studies of nature’s super-abundance, teeming with detailed descriptions of a multitude of plants and animals, express a fecund world of variety and growth. Lizards, monkeys, sloths and even elephants peer out from hidden places in a packed landscape of plants and flowers. The drawing is forensic and controlled. Literal in its description, it suggests the specific recordings of Victorian botanical enquiry. This level of intensity channels the hallucinatory flavour of Richard Dadd’s fairy-tale pictures.
In their obsessive complexity these busy images anticipate the formal abstractions of the paintings. In these, Hsu deploys painstaking accumulations of uniform, cellular, grain-shaped marks that combine to make a softly-textured, modulated surface. Carefully-rendered colour articulates the shifting forms and masses of the compositions, prompting comparisons with the aesthetics of classical landscape painting, as they swirl and bloom across the indeterminate space of the picture plane.
Ambiguous in scale, they are evocative of many possible subjects: landscape, clouds, bacteria, interstellar plasma, magnified skin, a forest seen from space. Are they big or little things? Whatever they are reminiscent of, or refer to, they speak of something elemental and generative, that is both macro and micro, and, like the drawings, contains the processes essential to life.
Courtesy of the artist and Pontone Gallery, London