Encounter: an exhibition of paintings, photography and drawings by Sophia Pauley & Nancy Nightingale – cool, crafted artwork with a sense of stillness and harmony
“They don’t teach drawing in art schools anymore. It’s criminal. Teaching drawing teaches people to look.” —
David Hockney, 2014
Fortunately, the Edinburgh College of Art introduced, inspired and instilled in these two young artists the fine ability to draw and paint intricate, cool, crafted compositions.
Sophia Pauley graduated in 2018 with a 1st class Honours degree in Art and now specialises in large scale, bold, colourful abstract paintings on canvas or wood, screen printing and painted sculptural installations.
Dominating the vast concrete floor and expanse of white wall is the Tangent series of paired diptych canvases in which Pauley brings a flowing wave of swirling colour, curving shape with linear precision; she is inspired by water from natural landscape to manmade structure, from lake and sea to swimming pool.
Of course, Hockney was also attracted to paint the sunlight on dappling blue water of Los Angeles pools of luxury Hollywood mansions.
Acrylic, spray and gloss paint is used to create a Tiffany-blue grid which certainly reflects the shimmering, cool water of a pool, surrounded by red, green, pink and blue boomerangs and stripes.
The painterly pattern, bold palette, parallel lines, squares and rectangles bring Mondrian’s decorative designs clearly to mind, and reflect an underlying mood of quiet contemplation.
Viewing Sophia’s work on her website, there are other installations and canvases – splintered triangles, oblongs and diagonal shapes with an explosion of colour, dynamic energy, rhythm and movement.
Nancy Nightingale also graduated from the ECA in 2018, specialising in painting, but also trained in drawing, film and photography, to observe exterior and interior worlds. Whatever the subject, she combines these diverse skills, such as creating a filmic quality within a painting with extraordinary dexterity, tone and texture.
Most evocative is the realistic ambience in “Rise” illustrating the tangled tumble of an unmade bed with the quality of an almost out of focus, sepia tinted, photograph. Alison Watt is renowned for her depiction of the flowing folds of fabric, and here too Nightingale’s delicately composed oil painting captures the soft draping swathe of duvet and sheet with a masterly touch.
Like a voyeur we are drawn in, trying to see if that is a person, or perhaps a couple, lurking half hidden in the shadowy sunlight. This creates a boundary between abstraction and figurative art, with just the suggestion of human presence within the beautifully crafted “portrait” of this intimate setting.
Tracey Emin’s best known installation, ‘My Bed’, (1998) was her artistic response to a relationship breakdown – her own bed with a scattering of her personal things across the crumpled sheets. The enigmatic work was re-sold at Christies in 2014 for £2.2 million. “I bought “My Bed” because it is a metaphor for life, where troubles begin and logics die.” Count Christian Duerckheim.
The digital print, “Ghost” with its architectural perspective, has the immediate appearance of a black and white sketch, again showing her technique to combine a photographic study with the artistic eye of a painter.
Along the corridor and back room salon, see a selection of drawings on paper by both artists as well as photographic prints and a short film. Nancy won the Best Film Award 2018 for ‘At First Light’ in collaboration with Louis Caro (Movie Production Society at The University of Edinburgh). There are also postcards, prints and risographs for sale.
Patriothall gallery is the ideal industrial warehouse space for Pauley’s expressive, experimental paintings, enhanced by the light flooding in through the high windows to great effect. Walk around to view Nightingale’s paintings and prints at a distance, and then see the detail in close up, light and shade of the detailed draughtsmanship.
From geometric abstracts to architectural sketches and prints, this joint collection shares their innovative exploration of place, space and time to reflect artistic harmony with a subtle sense of serenity and stillness.
Encounter – Sophia Pauley & Nancy Nightingale
Patriothall Gallery, Patriothall, Hamilton Place, Edinburgh EH3 5AY
6th – 21st September, 2019
Tues-Fri, 2pm-7pm; Sat & Sun, 10am-5pm – closed Mondays
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[Photographs of the exhibition by Murray Orr and the artists.]