The British artist Tom Chamberlain (*1973) engages the simplest of artistic means to
achieve an unusually high degree of visual complexity and his conceptual aim of
intricate mark-making that brings about its own erasure.
His paintings comprise multiple layers of thinly applied acrylic, while his drawings
comprise innumerable evenly spaced points or lines. At first glance, a white piece of
drawing paper belies the hundreds of threadlike lines that weave their way across
the paper. Simple lines and primary colors interlock in a filigree field of complex
iridescent color and movement that the beholderʼs eye struggles to perceive. What
appears monochrome shimmers delicately, revealing depth and substance while
evading definite form.
His works take their time, allowing the viewer to experience the emergence of form.
There is a visual reticence that hopes to slow down perception to arrive in the
present, as various seeming colors and depths arrange and rearrange themselves
on the surface. Although elements of pattern are present, there is nothing for the eye
to grasp; the threat of entropy is ever present. Similarly, he does not attempt to
define the colors of things because he wants them to possess an unnamable quality:
the idea of grey, a color in limbo, defies anything conclusive.
Occasionally his work seems to be a passage from dark to light, as if a painting
would illuminate itself. Other times it accumulates layers of color that eventually
cancel themselves out into blankness or become a kind of screen on which vision
can be projected, without offering clues to what belongs within the surface. Visually,
it is the imminence of something not yet here—or already gone