Matthew Colllings and Emma Biggs new show at Vigo Galleries in London thematises restraint as a vehicle of ‘truth’. These very colourful and rhythmic paintings are named after words and phrases from the book of Genesis which, no matter what they say, comes across as ironic if we bear in mind that the artists are husband and wife. In other words, this mid-life Adam and Eve use grids to redefine the notion of success from the point of view of life experience and acceptance. The wisdom of these images lie in the fact that they do not flex muscular erudition or coolness. Instead they seem to function as balancing order and surprise. It is from this point of view that these ‘grids’ are profoundly expressive and if I am allowed the indiscretion, affectionate and loving.
The artists’ working method is straight forward. ‘Collings paints; Biggs creates the colours, decides where to put them and how to amend them’. And you wonder who is the boss in that household?
The images might come across as distant, at first glance but it is as if the tension and the wondrous happen at a different level and that can be perceived at first glance too. Although they reject the idea that this paintings are ironic, these images are certainly rhetorical figures of displacement. Let me be more clear.
Upon entering the room the paintings work perfectly well with the environment and the mosaic-like visual association with the wooden floor reminded me of those grids at Rubens’ Jesuit Church in Antwerp where the whole ensemble of walls, ceilings and floor is made of composite stone and marble for God is showcased as the artist. I think both Rubens (who designed those mosaics) and the duo Biggs/Collings engage in something very rare these days which is restraint as a vehicle for expression. These paintings can be abstract but they are not rational exercises but a very optimistic statement of how life together is still possible. Just a thought.
UNTIL FEBRUARY 19TH AT VIGO GALLERY
21 DERING STREET, LONDON W1