Painted largely during the transition from winter to spring, this body of work by Liam Stevens draws from the emerging palettes of fresh colour found within the spaces where he lives. “The periodical shifts in nature’s tone and luminance through the year are a discernible reminder of continuous change for me,” he says. “The virgin leaves of a tree, or the crisp hue of an early morning sky, can bring a sense of optimism and renewed vigour.” At a time when we have perhaps been living a more insular life, he intends these works to affirm brighter experiences ahead.
Living in London, Stevens is also affected by the city’s monochrome and overcast days. “The light is often subdued and fragile, which influences the impressions I take in,” he says. “The reduced palette of the Iteration series in part responds to this subtle articulation, both internal and external, which at times feels partially obscured or lacking clarity. The linear, grid-like details giving way to drifting inflections of light, imparted by the natural movement of water, hold some semblance to the observations and thoughts that engage me.”
These works, much like an architectural system for fabrication, share basic structural parts that can be composed in multiple ways. It’s in the exploration of these iterative forms, with the numerous possible outcomes they can produce, that Stevens discovers new fluctuating rhythms and contrasting arrangements.
The nuances of linen in the Iteration series sets it apart from Stevens’s other works on canvas. “The absorbency of the material is radically different, and consequently, my method of working changes,” he explains. “The surface of the coarse flax offers more texture and requires a denser solution of pigment, along with many washes, to adhere to the weave. Allowing for the influence of these materials enables me to explore my process and develop different techniques as I continue to evolve these works.”
Words: Francis Gallery
Photos: Rich Stapleton, Toby Mitchell