• Ben Fearnside

Making Abstract Art: the story of the blue square

It's that time of year again. I'm preparing for my return to Gallery 40 in the Brighton Festival Fringe 2018, and I've come over all 'retrospective'. My metal on canvas art has changed a lot in the last 18 months, all because of one little blue square.

For several years I had been working on 'Containment' paintings (like this big blue/ green canvas). These are layered grid-pattern fields of metal and colour, which fill the canvas edge-to-edge. Containments look through a window at the landscape, or down through a glass floor at the at the earth.

But in Autumn 2016 everything changed with 'Take Five' .

A polished-iron channel has appeared, a void space breaking the containment into four sections. This was new. But look closely and you'll that when working through the small pieces that balance colour across the painting, something else happened...

....I tipped a square.

A diagonal was radical. A bit startling. I couldn't work out if I'd ruined the painting, or had a revelation. With the next painting, 'Docklands' I reverted to back to the safety of the gird, but the voids of iron between the containment fields grew. The circles that had always been a floating top-layer, started to become part of the interlocking fields.

Everything was shifting. The next painting was 'Cadiz.'

'Cadiz' become all about that tipped square, as it took centre-stage. The void expanded to a jagged chasm, a crack of dark sky. The containment forms the strata of a cliff edge, no longer a grid. The 'looking through and down' view had gone.

This was also the first painting I created from a sketch, rather than starting directly on the canvas. Not only the art, but the process had changed.

'Korolev' took all of these elements and brought them together. The fields are separated from the frame by a polished/ rusted iron void. They hang in space. The diagonals are a strong force, a kinetic and mechanical energy.

'Korolev' prompted an offshoot series of machine paintings. The 2017 Festival show was a great success, with many of these new ideas finding fans and owners.

This journey leads us naturally to the 'Fall' paintings, the heart of the 2018 show.

'Hard Place' with its blue sky is one of 15 new paintings being shown at Gallery 40 for the Brighton Fringe, May 6th -20th 2018.

Come and see what turning the little blue square unlocked.

#brightonfestival #exhibition #abstractart


BEN FEARNSIDE Tel: 07908 201 809 - email:

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