Michael Craik: Razed to the Ground
Modernist buildings and anti-illusionist abstraction
This article is from 2007.
There can be an arresting intimacy in small paintings. The artist’s relationship becomes that much closer and more private, the intentions more modest. Certainly this seems to be part of the appeal of Michael Craik’s most recent works, all of which are painted on slim aluminium projected slightly out from the wall. This gives them an obvious physicality, yet it must also provide an ideal smooth support for Craik’s slick, flattened colours to be applied. Though more abstract than representational, much like his previous paintings, the influence of geometrical shapes found in modern architecture is pervasive. In fact these works seem to represent modernist building facades as seen from a diagonal slant, resembling Hitchcock’s North by Northwest opening sequence, which also inspired Scottish artist Martin Boyce.
These most recent paintings represent a further shift in Craik’s working method towards anti-illusionistic abstraction, where the surface is not simply flattened, but projected; small geometric, tetris-like shapes protrude, though only slightly, from the surface in the most subtle form of relief imaginable, and only visible when you catch the light reflected on the surface. Though almost single colour fields save a few linear structural lines, the colours seem synthetic but are indefinable; ‘Cold Front’, for example is baby blue with white linear outlines; ‘Invasion’ is a richer, deeper maroon hue and a series of three; ‘Band Width’, melds black and white with grey and crème. Craik cites Ellsworth Kelly as inspiration, but his work is also reminiscent with a range of modernist artists who abandoned or pulled apart painting mid-stream. (Rosie Lesso)
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