In "No More Gurus", what may well be Mark Braunias's 10th solo project at Jonathan Smart Gallery, there is a painting called Sobas. It is painted as is much of the work in the show, in a combination of inks and acrylics on canvas, and is dated 2002 - 07. Which is an unusually long gestation.
No More Gurus
August 8 - September 1, 2007
This got me thinking about notions of closure in painting, or that moment when a painting is judged to be finished. Most work is complete when the artist deems it to be, of course. In Sobas then, this suggests that Braunias was happy with the range of surfaces achieved, from raw linen through transparent layers of ink, to heavier denser areas of acrylic. Sobas is typical Braunias - busy in its variety of figures and the different energies of colour and line. It also brims with humour - bearing witness to a sampling of humanity which is characteristic Braunias, from laid back bearded dudes to alien-looking busy bodies. But Sobas is not as frantic a painting as Go Cat Go.
Indeed, in Sobas there is a measured distance between figures. (Compared to the more cluttered overlay of forms in Go Cat Go.) And it is via this visual rhythm, this balancing of void with form, that we appreciate Braunias's painting of his figures within their ground. In Sobas the upper two-thirds of the composition is played out against a deep atmospheric ground of green and blue. By contrast, the background in the lower part of the painting is a flat, matt black. (With a reclining male, a puddle, and an attendant dog sketched in white upon it.) This variation in ground helps the painting sing. And dividing it this way was a solution Braunias took some years to come to. That black allowed Sobas to be finally finished after four and a half years.