There seems to be a common thread between some of the exhibitions I have seen lately – artists past and present, established or fledgling – which is closely associated with their ingenious and skilful approach to blending colours together. Is it because colours cut through a large variety of styles, movements and tastes, and provide a safe entry point for uninitiated people like me who aren’t well versed in the language of Art? Suffice to say that when the Graham Hunter Gallery unveiled its latest offering two weeks ago about the work of renowned American painter and printmaker Sam Francis, it immediately persuaded me to get up close and personal with some of the artist’s lifetime achievements. The exhibition is small, in fact there are only a few paintings/printmakings of Sam Francis, but there is a very interesting angle to it. Graham Hunter has placed his own work in juxtaposition with Sam Francis’s, showing the influence the artist had brought to his own career development. In fact, I was grateful for Graham Hunter himself to take a few minutes of his time and enlighten me about the concept of the exhibition and how much Francis has influenced his art and gripped his imagination.
Sam Francis is closely associated with post-painterly abstraction, a broad term encompassing a variety of styles that flourished in the 1960’s and is usually characterised by linear design, bright colours, lack of detail and hard-edge abstraction. Astonishingly for such a prominent artist, Francis only took on painting in his 20s but several journeys around the world, including Paris and Japan, helped him reach his artistic maturation in the 1950’s.
Sam Francis was an abstract painter and his work resonates with me because he created wondrous colour harmony out of forms and concepts that defy the rational mind. But isn’t one of the interesting points of art, however simple or complex it may appear, to elicit an emotional response that, in return, gives free rein to our talents and imagination to re-interpret the artist’s work and vision? This is exactly what Graham Hunter did, providing an extra opportunity to fuel my imagination with more colourful designs and pondering over the potential influence of post-painterly abstraction on clothes and textiles.
Sam Francis work:
Graham Hunter work: