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  • 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.

Blue and green abstract painting, with real copper and bronze

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' .

'Take 5' abstract painting, with real gold and bold colours

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.

'Docklands' and abstract painting by Ben Fearnside, with real brass and bronze

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' an abstract machine painting using real iron and rust

'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.

'Hard Place' an abstact painting. A shattered shape falls down a chasm

Come and see what turning the little blue square unlocked.


#brightonfestival #exhibition #abstractart

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