Carol Robertson has been making circle paintings for twenty five
years. Over this period she has used a wide variety of geometric
formations yet she consistently returns to the circle. For her the
circle is an archetypal anchor, both formally and emotionally.
Circular Stories brings together a powerful new series of paintings
and as the title of the show suggests, all are thematic variations
of circular motifs. In spite of her non-representational roots her
paintings are never disconnected from the real world. She responds
to a changing, ephemeral world, contrasting the ideal geometry of
the circle, with atmospheric colour fields, symbolic of the flux of nature.
"The circle is the most archetypal of all the forms I use: it
has a universal resonance, so frequently found in art, architecture
and ritual: an evocation of the universe and the heavens: the
journey inwards, or outward, to or from the centre: a symbol of
wholeness, completion and infinity: the unbroken line with no
beginning or end: the eternal cycle."
Much of Robertson's inspiration forCircular Storiescomes from a
series of residencies in France. Over several years, together with
her partner, the artist Trevor Sutton, she has been invited to work
in a studio in the Gaillac region of the Midi Pyrenees."The studio
is in a very beautiful old building, high up in the hills,
surrounded by fields and vineyards. The sun rises on one side of
the hill and sets on the other. Days spent working here become a
meditation upon nature's seasonal patterns and the changing quality
of light."After making many small paintings in this location she
has produced several large paintings back in her London studio that
form a major part of this exhibition.
Not all of her recent work references her French influences. In
February 2014 Robertson made a trip to Central America. She was
primarily looking at Maya archaeological sites in southern Mexico,
Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Because of her interest in circles
she also examined many exquisitely carved and painted Mayan
calendars. These are complicated circular 'counts' of solar, lunar,
stellar and mythological observations that the Mayas became expert
in refining from versions of calendars dating back to pre-
Columbian Mesoamerica, c.2000 BC to AD 250. Versions of these
calendars are still in use today in the Guatemalan highlands and
some regions of southern Mexico. Since her return Robertson has
made a series of prints and paintings using circular motifs,
marking the significant impact of this Central American visit.
Colour is Robertson's key to unlocking her meditations. After
preparing luminous unstructured colour fields of liquefied oil
paint, she draws and then divides over-painted circles into narrow
bands of alternating colours, creating a rotating dynamic that
animates the geometry. Each painting contains a complete history of
colour, an abstract animation of memory and sensory experience.