In this exhibition “The Attraction Of Opposites” Clare Andrews is showing a selection of her work from the past ten years.
Andrews works on a series of paintings at any one time. Each group of paintings has a common theme, colours and visual elements, which are resolved in ever differing ways until the pictorial possibilities of those images are exhausted.
“A musical metaphor is apt: the group as an ensemble constitutes a suite on a theme, with variations, each piece relating to the other in formal and thematic terms; the whole having a cumulative unity and coherence (…)
Clare Andrews’s work is openly engaged with the social and political realities of our times, especially where they impinge on the everyday lives of women, in work, health, housework etc. This should not be seen to suggest any kind of propagandist stridency, for stylistically Andrews has favoured what might be described as comedic realism, and she has a remarkable gift for naturalistic observation. her work has never lacked poetry or visual wit.” Mel Gooding.
Above all else, what we are confronted with in the work of Clare Andrews is painting. A Painting of contrasts, in which large areas and shapes of flat abstract colour create a ‘mis en scene’ with the realistic figurative images.
These are mostly large paintings of a discursive nature which impress by their size and pictorial quality, displaying a visual sense trained to expand upon only those elements which are of real importance.
The painting method which Clare Andrews employs is completely traditional; i.e. oil paint on canvas. What really interests her, is exploring contrast in the formal sense. Andrews’s paintings may have some sort of narrative but usually do not. They are open-ended and a reading of the work is personal to each individual spectator. She does not create stories or construct narratives. These paintings, therefore, are colourful, bold and engaging, but they are also, enigmatic, with a sense of constriction and even consternation about them.
In her paintings she combines figuration and abstraction and each of these visual languages has equal importance in the finished work. These paintings decidedly do not fall into that space ‘between’ abstraction and figuration. These works show a clear ‘co-existence’ of abstract and figurative ways of seeing. The Attraction of Opposites refers to this magnetism. The title of her series, “Living In The Abstract” - several paintings from which are featured in this exhibition - describes what Clare Andrews does in her work very astutely. The realistic figures in her paintings are ‘living’ in an abstract world.
The world that we inhabit is a world of digital technology, which we live in and constantly utilise though very few of us have any real understanding of how it all functions. There is a basic insecurity in that, which these works illuminate. Our very lives are bolstered-up by what is unknowable to most of us. A world of digital imagery and manipulation/video clips/social media/advertising/speed/disposable/renewable/provoking the quick turnover.
Painting with its form, content, silence and its power to encourage contemplation survives and is needed more than ever.
Clare Andrews studied at Gray’s School Of Art, Aberdeen, Hornsey College Of Art, London and Escola De Artes Visuais, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
She presently lives and works between Scotland and Brazil.