May 08 - 26, 2012Saskia Leek
Dreamy, quirky, beautiful and enigmatic – descriptors all very apt for Saskia Leek’s painting. But to describe other than these paintings’ content (which is fruit subjects, the show’s deft title) requires more scrutiny, more visual detail than that.
So let’s start with colour. In Fruit Subjects IV, Leek uses black for the first time. It provides in a rubbed-back, worn and almost striated looking way, the ground in front of which a variety of colours hover. Blobs of lavender and greeny blues float amorphously behind a crisply outlined bunch of grapes in the central foreground of the painting. This is a dance of colour sharpened by (differences in) edge.
Edge here is important. (And Leek is not just being edgy.) In these paintings, areas of colour and form edge towards and touch each other in a variety of ways. In Fruit Subjects IV they overlap, they rub up, they veil and they obliterate one another in the gentlest ways possible of course. Edges are soft and hard, transparent and dense. In Fruit Subjects II, harder raised edges left by masking tape describe architectonic forms that are dramatic (and often laid down on diagonals) against softer areas of blue behind. Witness subtleties of definition, density, overlay and transparency here, in oranges, lavender and yellows that are very fine.
This sense of edge, or the places in painting where form and colour meet, is more even, more homogenous in Fruit Subjects I. And colour is kept close (through blue and green to yellow) within this painting too. Having said that, the small corner of differentiated reddy brown bottom right drives this painting, not only earthing it, but giving it the drama and movement that make it so appealing.
Then in Fruit Subjects VII, where you probably won’t see such a lurid and wonky description of fleshy fruit for some time (!), Leek washes much of the painting and also its frame with a light transparent layer of yellow green. The effect is halo-like, gilding in green the incredibly lustrous central offerings. And it focuses the gaze, harnessing the energy of underpainting and overpainting into strange and artful acts – such is the painting of Saskia Leek.