Show me something quieter…
Often modest in scale, paintings by Robin Neate reveal irregular surfaces, small gatherings of colour and simple arrangements of form. Within the limitations of each oblong frame lie vertical features, horizontal planes, sweeping diagonals, arrow-like triangles and small corners. Each shape fits snugly together to create managed and pleasing configurations of form. Pockets and patches of colour drift upon and within pictorial space. Each work exhibits particularities of hue- haunting mauve, wistful grey, viscous cream, lemon yellow, cheery orange, explosive red, a profound black. Uncertainty is also painted, occasionally brushstrokes seem to have faltered or the brush has been lifted from the canvas mid-stroke revealing a ragged edge or the painted layer beneath. Textures are uneven, surfaces broken up, divided. There are definite geometric shapes with sharp edges as well as those which lie incomplete or partial.
These painted abstractions act as extremely refined sketches or fragmentations of pictures. Sometimes what seems to be rendered is a mode of orientation, an atmosphere or mood: an early morning start, the unfamiliarity of an unknown street or the resignation associated with fatigue. At other times Neate captures specificities of time and place, the greyness of the built environment in a foreign city, the exact shade of a peeling wall, the angle of a sheltering roof. They are suggestive, associative… to be read as evocations or gentle reminders of time past.
By thickening oil paint with the addition of wax its consistency has been altered. Attention is drawn to the trace of a brush, the application of pigments to canvas, prior acts of painting and layering with their various speeds and slowness, spread, viscosity and flow, resistance and friction, swiftness and smoothness. Sometimes surfaces betray a rough finish, paint has been scraped back or knobbles have formed from multiple layers. Of prime importance are the materials involved and the ways in which they allow Neate to create series that demonstrate the interplay of flatness and depth, exercises in composition, surprising palettes and unexpected textures.
Many of Neate’s titles betray an easy-going sense of humour and this sense of the approachable is extended to the scale of the paintings, their expansion into series and their simple manipulation of surface, colour and form. Comprehensible compositions measure small spaces comfortably then demonstrate stability, imbalance, listing and collapse. Colours attempt to capture what has been seen in a glance, the transitory or remembered. Gentleness is painted with pastels, imperfect layers build up until they become brief indications of a certain dawn, an open window, a wintry sky, a maze of streets, a dizzying landscape.
There is an intimacy and quietude as one is called to bear witness to earnest acts of abstraction.
Currently based in Christchurch, painter Robin Neate has exhibited locally and nationally in both private and public institutions for several decades. Recent exhibitions include: Show Me Something Quieter (Chambers 241, Christchurch, 2015), Spring 1883 (Sydney, 2015) There and Maybe (Hamish McKay, Wellington, 2015). Neate also exhibited in pioneering artist-run galleries including Teststrip (Auckland) and Cubism (Wellington). A arts writer in his own right, publications on Neate include ‘Show Me Something Quieter’ (Barbara Garrie, Greenstreet Publishing, 2015); ‘There and Maybe’ (Ilam Press, 2015) and ‘Robin Neate: I think I'll go on down to the Pacific and from there I'll improvise, Part II. Mono 1:1’ (Warren Feeney, Ilam Press, 2014).
For additional information and a complete CV please contact the gallery.
Robin Neate will have a solo exhibition and publication launch at Melanie Roger Gallery in Spring 2016.