20cm x 20cm
Oil on canvas
After Rembrandt 2017
By Andy Finlay
Oil on canvas
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In his work Andy explores the history of a space or area of land, its gradual decay and erosion over time or the immediate transformation by destruction, followed by its renovation, renewal and redevelopment. The repetition of this cycle over years shape the spaces that surround us leaving permanent marks that act as reminders of the past. Throughout his work he attempts to bring into view the layering and charging effect that this history has on a space and the narrative of the emotional residue it left behind.
Andy was born in London and grew up behind an industrial gas works and this is where his fear and fascination of decayed urban and industrial spaces started. There is a cycle in all spaces but to him it is more extreme in these urban and industrial spaces. In a renovation or regeneration of a decayed area the first stage is a clearing process, a scraping clean of the old in preparation for the new. At this point the physical evidence of the old is removed but the history of it remains despite the loss of its physicality. The new building is erected and the cycle starts again. The abundance of these construction and redevelopment projects in London combined with his personal connection with the city is the reason its urban spaces and construction sites feature heavily in his works and continue to inform his practice.
He has been drawn recently to look at spaces that have undergone destruction through war or manmade disaster. This can be an overnight change as in the bombed cities in Syria or the Blitz in London, The Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Hiroshima bomb or ones that have been changed through many years of unrest as in Northern Ireland or Gaza. It is the way these areas have been altered by events to the point of leaving a permanent scar in the land as well as in the people and history that enthrals him.
He primarily deliver his ideas through painting using canvas, white oil paint, wood, cement, builder’s plaster, treated timber and light. He uses layering and removal alongside found materials mirroring the cycles he is endeavouring to capture in his work. Each piece is considered and developed over time using location visits, drawings, notes, effects, processes and materials most appropriate for the subject.
Light plays a lead role in all his work. He uses it for backlighting, highlighting, projecting onto, through and around canvases and where he can he uses natural site specific ambient light sources. It is particularly important in his white paintings as there is only one colour of paint and therefore it is just the shadows and highlights created by the textures of the paint that create all the detail. It means that in natural light the paintings change as the ambient light changes. As it moves during a day some areas become visible as others fade, the paintings become part of their environment and reflect it back at us. In all his work there are clues to the larger narrative, but with the paintings these are more subtle and often hidden. When areas become visible in certain lights so do the hints and pointers that allow the viewer to start the unveiling process and this is when the full meaning begins to come into focus.
His aim is to draw viewers in and for the work to slowly reveal itself. It is his way of slowing down time, to remove them to a place where the world drifts slightly away. His work tends to sneak up on you and slows you down as it transforms. It’s a contrast to the high paced lives we lead and the instant imagery that’s all around us.
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