A Return to Smooth Space examines the work of David Matthew King (b. 1981, Southern California, USA) and Bertrand Fournier (b. 1985, Île-de-France). The formal similarities between King and Fournier’s work are not merely a matter of their choice to use bright colours on the sober canvas, but their attempt to free each mark by unleashing it’s abstract vitality. Both intentionally grapple with reconciling inevitable contradictions as the negative space becomes a series of shapes, while volume is implied through each coloured form. While King uses multicoloured strokes that never touch yet connect and flow effortlessly from one another, Bertrand explores block colour and its relationship to the more delicate line.
King’s relationship with language as a form of expression pushes him to create a vernacular of unique shapes and colours. Each painting begins with a simple mark, spill or smear that offends an untouched canvas. From this a drama is then set in motion as the artist attempts to correct or develop the mark into a complete work. This process of mark-making becomes a form of personal storytelling expressed through the colourful shapes that the artist plays with through the surface of the canvas: a sustained, serial investigation into spatial distance as well as physical, emotional and linguistic boundaries between relationships. These carefully positioned marks of pure colour and controlled intensity communicate the tension between contradictory feelings of love, anger, isolation and hope. The visual interplay between colours, forces and tensions are held together by a balance that is neither symmetrical nor systematic, yet the works retain a sense of ordered harmony. Made specifically for the exhibition, each of King’s works respond to the light and space in which they inhabit.
Fournier’s artistic training is entirely self-taught and began in his early 30s; his hobby soon became an obsession which led to public recognition through Instagram. Bertrand strives for perfection in his work. Like King, his practice demonstrates the profound interest in internal compositional organisation and colour combinations. The artist distils his visual language to graphic and linear elements of pure colour and oscillates between a monochromatic palette (Scrabble) and a vibrant colour (Domino) that seems to glow from and weave in and out within the flat planes of floated rectangular forms on top of raw, unprimed canvas. Fournier intentionally designs and creates all of the frames for his works as way of maintaining authenticity and high quality.