The Host is a fresh mid-tone green, an evenly inked canvas measuring 750 x 700mm. And a parasitic canvas (if we might call it that), a mere 500 x 400mm, is slipped in behind with only a fifth of it showing, slid beneath the green field an equal distance between top and bottom but with a distinct bias left. A bit of nip and tuck, perhaps. Well, that would be right. The careful push of the smaller canvas within the host reads in pressure points at corners and edges that are taut (or tectonic even) beneath the green. The cut edge of the host canvas feels almost relaxed in comparison. There is downward pressure exerted by the corners of the parasite, which also nuances the contours of the host's green skin. A slight but noticeable bleed of size off the pre-primed canvas down to the bottom edge of the host is visible.
Visually then, this is painting where materials and process have their way. All is simple and direct. And the result is Walters-like in its clarity of form and cared-for, delicate proportions. The Host is a beautiful painting - it is number 1 on the show list for Pilgrim's Oyster, Oliver Perkins' first exhibition at Jonathan Smart Gallery. Since graduating from London's Chelsea School of Art in 2005, Perkins has gently interrogated the architecture or the building blocks of painting. The act of stretching canvas over supports has been deconstructed and this suite of insert (or envelope paintings) is a further iteration of this.
Other paintings here, including Handlung and D/S/A/R feature canvas stretched around wooden dowel held in suspension by cotton rope. The mark-making or painting on the canvas varies with each composition, as does palette. Colour is often deceptively saturated or of the landscape, but the real variety is around edges that are variously bled, softly layered or masked hard, depending on the needs of each painting. For that is key. In rigorously exploring the needs of painting, Perkins nourishes a practice increasingly in the public eye but which is just 15 years young.
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.