PIPPA BLAKE - QUEST. Until 17 June 2017. Candida Stevens Gallery 12 Northgate Chichester West Sussex PO19 1BA
There is a delicate fragment of time and place that runs through Pippa’s work, that delivers it as a recollection.
Pippa Blake’s new solo exhibition ‘Quest’ at Candida Stevens celebrates the past 10 years of her work including some new distinctive paintings based on her recent travels. The collection sees a wide range of skill and variation of style and subject, from earthy, organic abstract landscape paintings to cold and illuminated refined landscape paintings.
As you walk into the gallery you are greeted with a large abstract piece of Pippa’s work on the right titled ‘No-one waiting for me’. Straight away I am fixated with the size and imagery of this landscape. It is organic and soft yet haunting. An isolated figure standing central in the horizon with a side mass of what seems to be the edge of a forest is what Pippa is showing. The painting captures this haunting notion through the application and the stillness upon which the figure has been placed. It is flat and warm in colour compared to the bold and expressive chaos of marks that resemble trees. It explores depth and atmosphere, a theme that is profound within the rest of Pippa’s work and more so in her other organic paintings located at the front of the gallery, that resemble the same technique but cooler colours. What is refreshing to see in these paintings is that Pippa allows for interpretation and wandering of the viewer. I found myself to enjoy these works more due to the lack of distinction and the indexical marks created by her brushwork.
Making your way around the gallery towards the back you will find Pippa Blake’s most recent work a series named Flightpath. Compared to her previous works Flightpath is darker and moodier in approach and captures an ascended view from an aircraft. They depict landscapes of LA and the luminosity and intensity of the streetlights that breaks through the darkness. The array of light makes the dark seem darker because of its contrast aiding in its atmospheric effect. Unlike the previous work this series is more restricted in application and closed in - less expressive in mark making and application. Yet no doubt her skill to create moody soulful experiences has not been underachieved.
I find myself absorbed through this series by the depiction of light and colour applied to the canvas. Pippa has used vibrant touches of light and hues to illuminate her Flightpath series. The light is dotted and spread across the canvas creating contrast away from the dark overcasting landscapes that feel dormant. It gives presence of movement and suspension inviting us to feel lifted in the air by the aesthetic experience. Additionally fragmentation of thought and memory comes to mind when looking at the Flightpath series as there is a constant shift or delay in the work, represented by her application and layering of her paint. In areas the light has been applied as the top layer allowing the light to be dominate, where as other marks are sourced from a vibrant base layer that can be seen through gaps between the dark blue hues that radiate from bellow.
This creates a compelling style and one that is impressive.
Pippa’s work can be seen at the Candida Stevens Gallery Chichester until 17th June 2017.
Review by Eleanor Harwood