• Eddie Hewitt

Carol Phillips - Art Exhibition

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

A stunning exhibition of contemporary art by Carol Phillips is being staged at the Rendezvous café in Maidenhead this June. There are fourteen exhibits in the collection, including three created specifically for the event in this informal but impressive setting.

Carol has a fascinating and engaging style. A combination of the abstract and the figurative. Eye-catching, thought-provoking and evocative. The pictures captivate and draw in the viewer. Perhaps a shade elusive, too. They rarely evoke a single response and they allow considerable reflection on the possibilities.

In this exhibition, as in all of her work, there is a strong commitment to making “a statement about the relationship between colour, technique, emotion and identity”. In exploring this relationship, Carol adds : “All these themes intertwine and talk about the process of making art, every picture for me evokes some kind of emotion”.

There are some recurring patterns and themes. The artist has a particular liking for circles in interlinking patterns, images of space and links with the universe, and flowers that sometimes seem to hover in the breeze. For me the most striking theme in this exhibition is the human form in a range of intriguing guises. In several ensemble exhibits, related images are represented in a series of different colour schemes and configurations. Collectively, the individual pieces and the various series form a connected and compelling whole.

There is a sense of story-telling, but this is not dominant over the aesthetic experience. The message is conveyed both within and alongside the beauty of the imagery. The overriding factor is the spontaneous expression of feeling in a range of artistic forms. Carol hopes that people find her work interesting and exciting, and that they can connect with it emotionally.

Some of the images appear to withhold something, or to be suggestive rather than informative. Faces with few discernible features, allowing the viewer to imagine the mood, the history behind the moment. Bodies with unconventional forms, teasingly engaging in actions and conversations that can never quite be disclosed. This is notable in the first of three connected pieces.

This painting (above) is by far and away my favourite in the exhibition. I find it quite stunning. Also a little mysterious. I love the colour scheme, the imagery, the suggestion of story. There is a hint of Adam and Eve, the original couple, but this is surely a more contemporary pairing. The male with folded arms, suggesting lack of willingness to engage. The female apparently more open but not prepared to force the issue. The proximity of the figures to each other suggests a partnership, so why is this not developing into something more intertwined and fruitful ? This is, of course, just my interpretation.

The above painting could, for me, be called ‘man waits for life to pass him by’. It makes me feel a sense of loneliness. The figure appears to be lacking in any kind of vibrancy. It could just be an idle moment, with perhaps something much more exciting to come, or it could be a lack of enthusiasm with so much greyness all around. Either way, I can connect with the emotions conveyed.

In the third major work in this series (above), a woman sits calmly but again perhaps somewhat sadly. The picture is perfectly balanced; the solitary, central figure has great poise, but I am again sensing a lack of fulfilment and a moment of introspection. Tranquillity but without satisfaction. I really like the bold, finely delineated figure and the skilful use of subtly contrasting greys. I also relish the apparent search on two levels : looking out on an expansive vista and searching within for strength and direction.

Figures are represented (and shown below) in a much more playful and light-hearted way in a series of running figures. The simple shapes work brilliantly against backgrounds with intricate colour blends and depths. The repetition of the basic form across a series of pieces is engaging. I find them an aesthetic delight.

Commenting on the expression of identity in her work, Carol states “as an artist and art therapist I feel it is important that a painting says something about the self, about who you are, this might come across in a number of ways”.

In another highly innovative and eye-catching exhibit (below), Carol has used a combination oil-based and water-based paints to create a series of stunning images on acetate sheets. We see a collection of striking images of activity in deep space, or perhaps a representation of fluidity and the merging of elements in an ethereal setting. Fascinating collisions of colours with different compositions and consistencies, reacting in different ways and producing a stunning overall effect.

Summary reflections

This is an opportunity to view contemporary pictures that have tremendous aesthetic value and also an interesting narrative. We are presented with a collection of different styles, techniques and themes inspiring diverse emotions, and offering clues about identity and consciousness. Some of the pieces are exciting, some rather more quietly moving. But almost all of them prompt me to return for a further viewing. This is, overall, a wonderful expression of thoughtful and soul-searching creativity.

I am inspired to consider more deeply some important emotional truths, to look both within and without, to develop a more meaningful and a more satisfying grasp of self-expression and connectivity.

© Eddie Hewitt 2015

The exhibition runs until the end of June 2015

Links :

Poetry and Pictures

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