In Christina with Yellow Shoes, revisiting the photographic source material referenced in previous paintings, Christina with Dutch Door (2015) and Christina in Red Hat and Christina in Red Hat #2 (both 2014), Patterson has used the same image of his wife to explore articulations of composition, scale and now color balance - this latest version being rendered in gray-scale. Jutting up against the portrait of Christina is an image of the influential conductor and musician Frans Brüggen, seated and playing the recorder. The inclusion of the Brüggen in his formal attire conjures parallels with Yves Klein and his choreographed performances, conducted by the artist in a tuxedo, coordinating models, musicians and painting in tandem. Whilst the painting of Christina aligns with the historical precedent of the artists’ wife as muse, other image references tend to represent notions of nostalgia and composition, rather than reverence of the subject depicted. In this way, they are purposeful, but not particular, allowing for an individual reading of the painting by the viewer.
These two gray-scale photorealist scenes form windows within the center of the painting, surrounded by generous abstract brushstrokes in a select color palette of blues, grays and greens. The encasement of these images in the abstract “frame” create a sense of a vignette, and force us into the position of having to look through one painting to access the next. As with Patterson's other paintings, the oscillation between figuration and abstraction presents a means of generating space for ambiguity and allusion. As Paul Moorhouse has written, “...the recognizable world is present, but intermeshed with passages of pure expressive fantasy: colors, marks and shapes that inhabit its surface... they exist on their own material terms, substantial and visceral, cohabiting with fragments of appearance. Figuration and abstraction, for so long on opposite sides, are here locked in a fresh embrace. Together they form a saturation in which everything is equally real, or equally illusory and everything is uncertain.”
A theme within Patterson’s work, and in this exhibition, is his connection with the culture of 18th century Northern Europe. Channeling tongue-in-cheek humor of post-war British popular culture such as the Carry On films, and Harry Enfield, Patterson has developed a cast of fictional characters “The van Toojerstraap family” who have formed the basis for a number of written passages, and here for small paintings and Diasec prints where a figure emerges from seemingly abstract gestures. Looping back into this narrative is the Dutch door in the background of Christina with Yellow Shoes; a reference which is symbolic not only in its connections to historical paintings by Rembrandt and Van Hoogstraten, but also in terms of its literal function of a door which allows itself to be half open at any one time. This portal which simultaneously allows and blocks access draws parallels with the functions of Patterson’s opposing painting languages of expressive abstraction and precise photo-realism. The interaction between the two is seemingly irreconcilable, yet Patterson confronts the paradox and, in doing so, the precedent of art historical hierarchy.