- Bracknell Gallery
- South East England
In an era where art has largely been defined by conceptualism and its boundary pushing it is somewhat refreshing to be presented with the paintings of Derek Hill’s Flaw series. This is certainly not to undermine or criticise contemporary art practice nor to say that Derek Hill’s work is not progressive, but his work does present us with a wholesome balance between the traditional and the contemporary.
Hill explores traditional paint media in a non-traditional way. The painting process is masculine and scientific, the large canvases are laid on the floor and undergo chemical and paint processes that result in the tactile and textured paintings. The process is arguably the most significant part of the artwork. Not surprisingly Hill is often compared with the abstract expressionists, something the artist is understandably wary of, but its a comparison that is hard to avoid. The virile process is reminiscent of Pollock. Looking at the work reminds me of sitting in the Rothko room at the Tate Modern, taking in the colours and mood. The large canvases are bold and striking but also relaxing and thought – provoking. The colours are tasteful and inoffensive but not insipid.
The works have been well chosen and put together, the varying canvases work well together and the gallery space accommodates their size perfectly. The result is a satisfying and impressive aesthetic. For me the paintings in the smaller gallery, some of Derek Hill’s most recent works, lack the organic and kinetic feel of the other works, the virile process becomes lost in what feel like domestic and commercial paintings. But for many viewers these are the preferred pieces in the exhibition. To refer back to the beginning of this review, the most refreshing thing is that this exhibition is very accessible. You can appreciate the work without specialist knowledge or understanding of the concept behind it, because to understand them requires nothing more than your own imagination.