Nick Archer’s new paintings are reminiscent of the north European landscape painters such as Pieter Brueghel and Caspar David Friedrich. His painterly process, however, is a very contemporary practice and results in an atmosphere that can be also recognised in 21st century painting and film making.
Archer’s painterly process is central to his practice. He starts by pouring vivid combinations of colour onto canvases on the floor of his studio. The pools of colour bleed and merge into each other, so in the early stages of the work, the paintings almost paint themselves. When nearly dry, Archer fixes the canvas to the wall and weaves his chosen image into the rich texture of the oily ground, making sense of the random floods of colour and creating a balance between the complex accidental surfaces and the marks of the artist. What results are beautifully painted landscapes full of awe and wonder, which at once imply a danger that instils the paintings with the atmosphere of a dark fairy tale.
The landscapes show signs of habitation in the occasional cabin, derelict cottage or caravan. If a cabin or caravan is present it is often abandoned or in a state of decay, alluding to the ruthless power of nature and a cycle of renewal and decay. Occasionally a figure wanders through the landscape as if lost, disorientated, the vast landscape appears to dwarf and intimidate them. The viewer has to at times search for this point of focus as if they themselves are lost in the richly painterly surfaces of tangled branches. Archer manages to create not just a picture, but a resonant, atmospheric experience for the viewer to contemplate as they are cast adrift in his paradise.
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