Bryan Spier: History Paintings, the artist's fourth exhibition with the gallery builds upon ideas explored in his previous solo exhibitions Heavy Images (2013), Simultaneous Paintings (2011) and Expandable Paintings (2010). A substantial shift in his studio process sees Spier’s new paintings not planned or designed in advance, rather they are discovered as they progress and the bold geometric compositions belie the lengthy process of doubt, erasure and layering that underpins their structure.
The exhibition’s title History Paintings seems in conflict with these works of pure abstraction that offer visual sensation in the place of weighty subject matter. However, like ‘History Painting’ proper, Spier’s compositions offer the compression of time into instantaneous moments of perception, and cohese swathes of information into compact pictorial objects. In Spier’s new body of paintings blocks of highly keyed colour function to redact sequences of events, creating broad composite shapes that follow sinuous connections. Glimpses of phantom shapes and textures allude to underlying structures and alternative paths not taken. Spier’s works replicate an historical process by selectively mapping the actions, gestures and mistakes that issue from the blank canvas at the beginning of each painting to the articulated fragmentation at the end.