Art Critic Lynn Wilkinson shares her thoughts on Rigby’s Hungerford exhibition.
“Her approach, technique, strong sense of composition and ease with her medium lifts these paintings, all made this year, above the ordinary”
Lily Rigby: Liminal Light, in the Old Brewery Gallery at The Wheatsheaf Inn, Chilton Foliat, until August 18
BRIGHTON-based artist Lily Rigby, who has family in the area, has an exhibition of paintings in the new gallery at The Wheatsheaf Inn at Chilton Foliat, the first show since the recent gallery launch.
The exhibition showcases her obsession with sea and sky. She is very much a painter in the landscape tradition, showing oils on board and canvas, but her approach, technique, strong sense of composition and ease with her medium lifts these paintings, all made this year, above the ordinary. They are works of power and drama, capturing roiling seas and mutable skies, with colour both a form and an emotional response to the subject matter. The artist has also hung wisely, not overcrowding the showing space and allowing each of the works to breathe.
Embracing semi-abstraction, she shows dramatic, atmospheric work in a saturated palette of deep blacks, inky blues, turquoises and greens. Materiality is important, with paint thickly applied, whether in free, gestural strokes or in the thick surface texture of discrete, scumbled areas.
“…her approach, technique, strong sense of composition and ease with her medium lifts these paintings, all made this year, above the ordinary”
Rigby layers the paint, so it is sometimes translucent, sometimes opaque, areas of colour glimpsed beneath others, giving a sense of the ever-changing sky and restless sea. Light also shifts constantly, and as the artist strives to convey this protean quality in paint she adds an elusiveness to the paintings. These are mobile works, alive and vital. One always senses elemental forces. In Night Sea 1, the blue-black sky fills two-thirds of the painting, the foreground a passage of eddying seas crowned with white-brown foam. In Night Sea 2 there are hints of representation in the textured surfaces of turbulent, white-topped waves, and in the drips of falling paint in the foreground.
Distant Light has drama and emotion, surely controlled, with swathes of colour leading the eye to the fissure of light. Emotional power, too, in Edgeland and Light Shift, and Escape shows oils exploited for their sheer physicality, thick sweeps of colour indicative of the power of the natural world.
In Rise, the paint has been applied in a flatter way, so the work has become a composition of bands of horizontal colour; white-grey at the top giving the sense of daylight approaching, a deeply coloured centre section, and a dramatic bottom edge of dynamic spring green.
The gallery is a welcome new showing space, with a dedicated entrance at the rear of The Wheatsheaf. Lily Rigby’s show runs until the end of next month and can be viewed during the pub’s opening hours (Mon-Thurs: noon-3pm; 5.30pm-11.30pm); Friday: noon11.30pm; Saturday: 9.30am11.30pm; Sunday: noon-9.30pm).
Publisher & Date: Newbury Weekly News – 12 July 2018
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