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Indepth Arts News:

"Martin Nash: His Latest Series of Paintings"
2004-03-11 until 2004-03-24
Comme Ca
Manchester, , UK United Kingdom

Martin Nash’s paintings describe a journey from one approach to another within the discipline of abstraction. Nash has chosen to include a wider chronological sample of his output, partly as a means of demonstrating that procedures evolve from another and partly to situate individual works in an enlarged territory for future investigation. The exhibition represents a vivid document of the ongoing development of the artists’ practice.

Contemporary artists derive their working themes from a vast range of experimental and referential sources but within the painting, the focused manipulation of the concrete means of the craft can yield an inevitably altogether less apparent on more issue driven work. Nash’s investment in the materiality of painting emerges as restlessness within these technical means. The move from working on board to canvas has necessitated a thorough revision of his methods, a shift that has in turn extended the expressive range of his output. Colour harmony and a kind of dynamic equilibrium are still the chief compositional determinants but whereas in the earlier pieces the motifs coalesced from multi layering the gestural brushwork tended to carry narrative association. The latest work has a quietude and simplicity that allows fewer colours greater play amongst themselves.

The quality that characterises all of Nash’s work is positivism. His training in textile design and architecture contributes greatly to his ability to extend this essentially optimistic aesthetic through image making that breathes a sense of reasoned authority. All his recent work is permeated by an achieved formal richness that is absolutely simultaneous with the colour impression. The coherence and clarity of the composition forms a stable point for departure for ones immersion in the chromatic richness, a dance of colour that is rhythmic and exquisitely measured. The colour, in turn, seduces and then redirects our attention to the design. This circular movement, uniting complementary hues within both narrow and broader chromatic ranges with the rectilinear and curvaceous interlocking structures that bind them, is the very stuff of aesthetic pleasure.

Nash has succeeded in one of the most challenging areas of artistic production. It is far more complex and demanding business to produce overtly affirmative art with cast iron integrity, than to produce ugly ill-formed and transgressive work out of a sense of helpless fatalism. The wider repercussions of the tone and temper of contemporary art are a vexed issue, but where painting rewards contemplation it does so because it engages the sensibilities of its audience. This is mature painting to reward and sustain the many and is all the more powerful for that.

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