Claudia Carr: Opened Ground
25 November, 2016
‘Opened Ground’, currently on show Jessica Carlisle, London, brings together a new body of paintings by the British artist Claudia Carr. Carr is known for her ambiguous paintings, which hover between still life and landscape, figurative and abstract.
In this body of work, Carr has worked with a restricted palette of black, white and yellow ochre. The focus is on the interactions between ‘warm’ and ‘cool’, light and dark, and the result is powerful and, in places, unsettling. The works are intensely captivating, exploring as they do the limits of chromatic activity. In some places the whites appear almost translucent, whist brooding shadows suggest valleys or crevices.
Claudia Carr, Drift, 2015. Oil on canvas; 31.2 x 56.8 cm.
Carr paints from objects collected from the landscape: sticks and rocks and bits of twisted metal. In her paintings, these objects seem to warp and breath – freed from the constraints of scale, a screwed up tissue becomes a craggy mountain, whilst what may have been a stretch of table could equally be the bed of the ocean. For the artist, her relationship with the objects is key. The intimate act of looking intently builds an intense relationship between the observer and the observed. Perhaps it is this that gives the paintings such an ambiguous quality: anybody who has studied an object – or indeed a painting – for a prolonged period will have experienced the shifting of perception as the brain wanders through varying scales and connotations.
In many ways, Carr is inviting the viewer into the unique relationship she enjoys with her subjects. As objects shift, shrivel and quiver before her eyes, she paints them in a way that shares that ambiguity with her viewers. We are never quite sure what we are looking at – is it miles of mountain range or millimeters of studio? Our answer may vary from one day to the next.
Claudia Carr, Like a Dog Turning its Memories of Wilderness on the Kitchen Mat, 2014. Oil on canvas; 92.5 x 103 cm.
Claudia Carr, Ebb and Flow, 2015. Oil on canvas laid on board; 27 x 33 cm.
With thanks Jessica Carlisle for their support. Feature image: Claudia Carr, Where the Soul Fluttered a While, 2016. Oil on canvas; 29.8 x 58.5. All images courtesy of the artists.