Whaddaya lookin’ at? Stephen Bambury’s Four Truths (to El Lissitzky)!


Four Truths (to El Lissitzky) (1989), Bambury

As an exponent of Colour painting, Stephen Bambury’s work revolves around persistent explorations of colour, paint, and surface as a subject in itself. Unlike his contemporaries who busied themselves with the investigation of social, political and cultural values in their work, Bambury turns a blind eye to these naturalistic, metaphorical or autobiographical references. Instead, his responsibility as an artist lays in the creation of works that encompass a direct visual experience, due to their meticulous patterns and carefully considered colour combinations. At a glance, Bambury’s work may appear limited in its formal elements and expression. However, minimal does not necessarily mean restrictive.

In his 1989 piece Four Truths (to El Lissitzky), Bambury explores the essential points of paining and dedicatedly intensifies them so that they work becomes a concept indicative of painting itself. Bambry expresses the notion of painting as an ‘actualised object’, a term used by contemporary American artist Joseph Marioni, to convey that is is the painting in Four Truths (to El Lissitzky) that projects itslef as the work’s content. (Painting as an Actualised Object, Joseph Marioni, 1979.) Cementing this idea is the overwhelming sense of binaries in the work; the canvas possesses two rectangles, one white and the other black, enveloped by a sea of grey. If one rectangle was amiss, there would seem no real context for the other’s existence, thus Bambury suggests that it is really the idea of one colour implying the situation for the other colour, and shape, to exist. From within this framework of binaries, Four Truths (to El Lissitzky) comes into being. This unique perspective towards painting is akin to the conceptual sphere where the resulting work has an uncluttered directness and a concentrated intensity that is as unusual as it is striking.


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