As a gestural abstract painter, painting for me is about orchestrating multiple endeavours in the making process, while seeking to render visible the unanticipated or inexplicable moments in the act of painting itself. I am currently navigating the territory between the indeterminate, intuitive and improvised approaches to painting and the predetermined, where drawings, studies or a catalyst are required to instigate the painting process. In making the current Square Series discarded painting rags have been used as a source of reference, essentially as a guide for colour and composition. After the initial period when the painting rag is scrutinized for visual information, the painting will deviate organically and become autonomous, ultimately taking an indeterminate path. Controlling the function of depth in these paintings has been a push-pull relationship: fluid marks and gestures are repeatedly applied to the surface but depending on the nature of that surface depth may only function to some degree or seem ambiguous. Veils or glazes of colour are frequently applied superimposing earlier layers. Depth may then become complicated by the use of a bright veil of colour or the revealing or obscuring of previous layers of information. A more unconventional approach to the role of depth has precipitated a renewed attention to the potential of composition.

Discovering new possibilities through the making of homemade oil paint has made this series of paintings wildly experimental, reinforcing the significance of materiality in my practice. The accumulation of matter is vitally connected to the intensity with which gestures are applied to the surface. Gesture is crucial in evoking rhythm: through the act of painting, via mark making, through the physicality and movement of the body, in music or the natural rhythms of the environment. I am captivated by the experience of painting itself: how aesthetic experience, perception and our sensory experience of the painting emerging into the world play a vital role in the creative process. Within the experience of painting lies a potential encounter with chaos or a momentary loss of consciousness where a struggle or even disaster occurs, or the painter goes into automatic pilot and the painting paints itself. This is often followed by a sublime moment: wonder or awe felt towards the culmination of a painting where success or resolution is finally discovered. I experience a similar sensation in the making process and in the moment when the painting suddenly, overwhelmingly tells you it is complete; a multi-sensory experience, which is hopefully also felt by the viewer.


Rebecca Meanley