BlogCommentaryTheme and Variations: Recent Work by Michael Jarvis

Theme and Variations: Recent Work by Michael Jarvis


This exhibition of paintings and collages demonstrates the artist’s versatility, working in a variety of styles and media. His work demonstrates the importance of process, transforming images by obscuring, fragmenting or abstracting them. As the title suggests, there are common themes and images that travel through the paintings and collages.

A series of bold, confident abstract paintings, ‘bh-variations’ are united by their blocks of colour and meandering lines, suggestive of buildings and roads. The paint is applied with energy and texture, the layout and proportions consistent. However, each is unique in its colour palette, ranging from cool greys to hot pinks, and the composition varies from sparse and minimal to dense and intricate.

bh-variation 1 (oil on canvas) bh-variation 2 (oil on linen) bh-variation 3 (oil on canvas)

The more figurative works have recognisable landscapes, buildings and vehicles. They are painted in such a way as to appear partially veiled from sight, as if viewed through a gauze or filter. This has the effect of detaching the audience from the subject matter, and making us more conscious of the artist’s hand. ‘Street (grey and blue)’ has a surface animated by drawn lines and marks, obscuring some details and emphasising others.

The painting shown below, ‘Pale blue with street’ offers us a glimpse of an urban environment, viewed through a wall of paint. The paint obscures much of the landscape from view, offering only what can be seen through the rough-edged chinks in the painted curtain. Whilst in the background, paint is posing as buildings, road and sky; in the foreground it stands for itself – paint purely as paint.

‘Pale blue with street’ (oil on canvas)

In his collage pieces, Michael Jarvis uses carefully selected fragments of photographs and his own drawn or painted images as building blocks to construct his own cityscapes. A recurring motif is the yellow gold criss-cross design of a crane which appears in four of the collages: ‘Yellow crane’, ‘Street’, ‘Blues with crane’ and ‘City fragments’. These playful creations translate the solid, static scenes they are drawn from into transient, mobile configurations.

The exhibition has been curated by the artist and all work is for sale. Visitors are welcome to view the work until Saturday 11th June 4pm. All photographs in this article are provided by Michael Jarvis.


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