The paintings of Miranda Skoczek are suffused with joy and optimism. In this new series of canvases she further explores the possibilities of lyrical abstraction, consolidating her visual themes and extending a personal territory that she has made her own. Constructed in multiple layers of coloured washes and brushstrokes, the work is formed by a combination of the artist’s intuition and her acute visual understanding. Each painting is a record of the unique dialogue the artist has had with it as she guides it to completion, responding to chance and suggestion with nuanced application and delicate control. Her thought-processes are evident across each of the surfaces as she has swiped, stained, brushed, blocked and cajoled the pictures to fruition. We see areas that have been applied, and we see other areas that have been reconsidered and eliminated as the picture has progressed. In a sense, the paintings are also about the history of their making – in order to advance and improve the pictures it has been necessary to sometimes cover up the effects of the previous day’s work.
Each painting reveals an implied space, or arena, in which brushstrokes and intersecting shapes float up and out towards the viewer. The lush, high-key colour combinations in the exhibition suggest the heady perfume of tropical blooms, and recall exotic, far-flung parts of the world. Patches of cyclamen jostle against pistachio. Slashes of indigo playfully dart through a web of ice-blue and orange. Cinnamon hits against dramatic lime green. Luscious fuchsia dapples through hot, cadmium red. The effect is one of floating and swooping as the warm and cool colours bounce dizzyingly against each other and emerge or recede as they seek anchorage within the picture plane.
Several of the paintings contain large areas of ’empty’ ground, around which jostle frenetic daubs of electric colours. Other paintings feature solid, blocky geometric shapes, which float defiantly in atmospheric spaces – and in these, Skoczek rearranges the elements in the way that a figurative painter might arrange a still life around on a table. These particular pictures are about the tension between painterly mark-making and the well-ordered geometric forms. Elsewhere, certain shapes have been suggested or traced in coloured line so that they fight for prominence on the surface of the canvas, before being submerged again into the pictorial depths of blocked-in backgrounds. Most of the paintings are quite large, so that they fill our visual field, so the viewer becomes immersed in the action of the colour.
The smallest painting in the exhibition suggests a mysterious mix of interior/exterior – against a monochromatic sweep of painterly brown/grey a geometric structure is outlined in hard-edged orange and green, while at the foot of the canvas sit several streaks and blobs of chromatically high-key colour.
The artist cites influences as varied as Sonia Delaunay, Gustav Klimt, West African fabric design and the decorative arts of old Persia: there are also, perhaps, hints of the likes an artist like Patrick Heron amongst the swathes of sweet-and-sour colour.