Helen Beard uses a vivid rainbow palette to create interlocking arrangements of bright primary colour, which combine to describe explicit sexual encounters. Working from found images, Beard’s work explores themes relating to gender, sexual psychology and eroticism. Situated part way between abstraction and representation, her figures are reduced to concisely defined fields of vibrant colour, on which a myriad of varied brush marks remain visible. Including a number of new works, one of which is a monumental diptych (The Mirror, 2018), each canvas measuring 3226 x 2743mm, the exhibition spans eight years of Beard’s practice.
New York-based artist Sadie Laska creates dreamlike compositions using paint and collage. Evoking the rebellious post-Pop aesthetic of New York, Laska often incorporates recycled waste materials and found objects into her paintings, sometimes reworking parts of earlier canvases entirely. In Untitled (Pepsi Shape), 2017, the canvas is carved up into contrasting areas, which are roughly painted with acrylic. The resulting amorphous shape evokes the distinctive colours of a can of Pepsi. A member of the underground drum-based band I.U.D., Laska’s paintings are filled with a similar improvised expressiveness and irreverent spirit of performance as her music.
The exhibition features a new series of Boo Saville’s colour field paintings, which are shown in dialogue with a number of black and white canvases. Known formerly for her figurative works in oil on canvas, as well as using everyday materials including biro and bleach, Saville has – since 2014 – been producing large-scale abstracts, made up of flawlessly gradating shades. Saville, whose work investigates mortality, applies up to forty layers of paint to achieve this extraordinary effect, erasing any suggestion of her own mark-making in spite of the emotional tenor of the works. The colour fields are inextricably linked to her black and white canvases, the subjects of the latter – sparingly painted so as to retain the appearance of the canvas weave – resulting from internet searches that occur to her whilst working on the abstracts. She notes: “The black and white paintings are purely about the surface of momentary thought and the colour fields are about the depth and vault of emotion and memory layered on top of each other.
Text taken from Newport Street Gallery website.