Paintings by Nancy Hull Kearing at the Atlantic Gallery: Depleting the formal

“An image begins to reveal itself and I paint it – moving back and forth from floor to table.” Nancy Hull Kearing

At the Atlantic Gallery Nancy Hull Kearing provokes us by juxtaposing modernist geometric primitives on energetic turbulent surfaces. These almost architectural drawings challenge the imposition of Euclidean shapes on a contemporary urban fabric seething with chaos and misconstrued depths.

Blended urban explosions are contained and released in rich colors and subliminal patterns, while primitive geometric shapes endeavor to control these bursts but flow into the mesmerizing organism of the composition.

The success of these paintings has a lot to do with the intensity and technique of the base composition. The base is composed on the floor giving the artist a greater freedom of movement and the ability of her instincts to soar without restrictions. The organic nature of the base is almost primordial + urban. Bold black cloth strokes on red (Eclipse), thin knife strokes on wet acrylic (Below Zero, Circumscribed) and sprays and splashes (Maelstrom, Halfnote) portray the primitive power and the agony of a misunderstood urban fabric almost as if to serve as a subliminal warning note.

The foreground is created with Euclidean geometric primitives and has a very rigid quality almost staccato in some compositions. They appear like intensely measured movements on a surface of infinite depth and complexity. These shapes initiate very formal movements and are confronted by the immeasurable base surface. Herein lays the fantastic narrative that Kearing has developed in these paintings.

While the first few paintings at the gallery appear to allow the foreground geometric primitives to perform their waltz, the narrative changes as we get to Eclipse. Here the strength of the base composition pulls some of the formal foreground elements into them almost appearing to incense these shapes into complicity. This fracas of the formal with the organic continues as a second parallel dance and leads to some delightful dark compositions such as Below Zero, Hot Sauce and Illuminati and leads to compositions such as the almost Rothko like Dance Square.

Kearing takes inspiration from Malevich, Kandinsky and Mondrian to show the melting away of the formal tectonic diagram into a dialogue with the infinite fabric: a visual treat for architects and artists.

Partho Dutta