Dreamscapes at Art @ Five

Published on Culture 24

Dreamscapes, Art at Five, Brighton, until September 20 2009

Matisse famously said that a painting should be like a comfortable armchair. If so, Dreamscapes could well swallow you up and leave you gasping for air. There’s a lot going on in this pictorial upholstery.

The exhibition flyer coins an intriguing phrase to describe it – “a labyrinth of colour”. Most paintings use the full spectrum of all seven shades at their brightest, plus varying amounts of gold leaf and glitter.

The three artists in the show are at least technically accomplished. Nick Vivian has painted a number of woodland scenes containing richly hued trees bathed in golden light. They are gently kaleidoscopic and evoke a world of fantasy and magic, rather than closely-observed nature.

He appears to use a stencil edge to cut out the forms of sycamore leaves and a sponge to capture the effect of dense foliage. At least one piece is further dappled in gold paint.

Kim Anderson has also plundered the rainbow in the name of decorative art, but her signature technique involves drips and scratches as well as broad washes of colour.

Her abstract works are inspired by major light events such as twilights and equinoxes. A couple of smaller paintings, Oyster I and Oyster II, are more muted, and the colours have been painted over with thick whites and greys. Yes, the effect is nacreous, but it is also understated, and that is welcome.

The most overwhelming paintings in the show are by Yvonne Coomber. Her pictures feature meadows of wild flowers and, as with her colleagues, a degree of innovation.

She action paints the grass and lays the oil paint on in thick discs to make flower heads. Once again, light floods these scenes, making the whole thing even more self-consciously pretty than it already was.

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