19th APRIL - 31st MAY 2018
The quarries of Provence have been mined for centuries, the landscape bearing the marks of centuries of excavation. The father of Modernism Paul Cezanne used the Bibemus quarry close to Aix-en-Provence to search for answers to the age-old questions of how to record three-dimensional space in two-dimensions; how to draw the negative spaces, the voids, and how to move beyond the Renaissance principles of perspective drawing, where space is strictly readable using an abstract diagram to map out the space that exists but cannot be seen.
Drawing on her experience as an architect and her fascination with this strange and unfamiliar landscape Tooney Phillips has developed a body of work for her solo exhibition that explores our very perception of space.
Repeatedly working from the same site; a working limestone quarry not far from Cezanne’s beloved Bibemus, her work is primarily abstract in nature. She describes and explores the contours, the very edges of the space(s) that can be found within the quarry’s geometric formation.
The writer Catherine de Zagher likened abstract art with the dual processes of “drawing from and drawing form” and Phillips approaches her art works with the same objectivity. Immersing herself in the subterranean sections of the quarry she has recorded its changing topography for over twenty-five years through photography and drawing.
The spatial characteristics of the quarry created through 2000 years of the repetitive cutting out of blocks allows for this exploration of the equivalence of solid and void. By means of the language of drawing Phillips uses line, space and form to describe the very nature of this landscape. Exploring the ambiguity of solid and void in two-dimensions and our perception of flatness and depth in the plane of the paper.
Back in the studio Phillips physically disrupts her original imagery through the means of collage, printmaking and photomontage. She takes the traditional representational pictorial space and physically cuts into it, she takes it apart and then reconstructs it. She enjoys playing with the physicality of the paper, building up successive layers to cut back into them, using her scalpel to excavate and therefore reveal her work. From a large-format photomontage that has been constructed directly onto the gallery wall to her smaller works on paper, they all play with our perception of what is form and what is space. Phillips’ art work is truly process led and its underlying Modernist premise is indebted to Cezanne’s abstract view of the world.