“Unless you read a painting as a feeling then you don’t get anything at all.” - Michael Kidner
Flowers Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of works on paper by the late British artist Michael Kidner (1917-2009), on display at Flowers Gallery, New York for the first time. The exhibition surveys two important periods of development during his long career, including works from the 1960s and the 2000s.
Michael Kidner was described by American art historian and critic Irving Sandler as “arguably the first Op Artist in Britain”, following his investigations of the optical effects of light, color and systemic structure during the 1960s. Optics presented Kidner with a challenge in his pursuit of a pure form of imagery, seeking a phenomenological approach to the fluctuating effects of light and color within the space set by the canvas.
The present exhibition explores four key areas of Kidner’s investigations of the image: After Image, Stripe, Moiré and Wave. The After Image series captured the vivid, pure impression of a retinal after-image - exploring the searing effects of oppositional colors in facing circular and angular forms. Kidner’s Stripe drawings from the mid-1960s structured the visual field into rationally organized alternating bands of color, to create a non-prescriptive mode of expression. The introduction of an angled band, dissecting the parallel stripes, produced a moiré pattern with an enlivened sense of color movement. This form of perceptual interference represented a breakthrough for Kidner, as he said: “I was now satisfied that the content of the picture was visibly connected to its structure”. The patterns that emerged in his series of Waves during the latter half of the decade countered the perceived infinity of the stripe, with cycles emerging through the correlation of alternate undulating forms.
By the beginning of the 21st Century, Kidner turned to the pentagon as his primary shape, creating complex organic patterns that appeared to regenerate, in endless variations, outside of a dominant logical structure. This development stemmed from his interest in Penrose tiling (a system of non-periodic tiling, named after the mathematician and physicist Roger Penrose), marking a lifelong artistic investigation of scientific and mathematical language to reveal the ‘truth’ of experience. The pentagon, in the context of this new work, was described by Stephen Bann as “constitutionally unstable and liable to take you to the brink of visual anarchy’’1, upsetting ideas of rational symmetry with dynamic fluctuations of visual order.
Mounted in this exhibition are Kidner’s final works from 2009, which were displayed in tribute to the artist at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London in 2010.
* Stephen Bann, 2003, Love is a Virus from Outer Space Exhibition Catalogue, Flowers Gallery, London