‘..Ancient watercourses again snaking their ghostly way through long since dried-up river valleys – all manner of histories again part of the surface ciphers. Palimpsests.’ T.O., from Brief Notes on a Change of Identity.
Small scale, ethereal, the beautiful new landscapes by Thérèse Oulton, at Marlborough Fine Art, are at once descriptive and abstract. The aerial views range from locations in Japan to the Trellick Tower in West London. The treatment is minutely precise, in paintings made on canvas and aluminium; oils dappled and nuanced more like watercolour have a translucent quality.
(Thérèse Oulton,Untitled no. 3, 2007, oil on canvas, 42.2 x 59.1 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Fine Art, London.)
In Untitled no.1, 2007, the green grey chalky limed surface with a scrupulously observed miniature settlement of white buildings. In Untitled no.16 a three span highway lends structure and grounding to the lower third of the study, giving way to a great sweep over vast open plains to the horizon. No.24 plays with a widening net of icy chalk blues that disappear into a misty ether. There are disorienting sensations of vertigo, loss of gravity and even in such small scale studies, an intense release into free flight, as in a waking dream.
The new work marks a radical change for Oulton, moving on from the larger abstract paintings of the past two decades. But the detailed description and brilliant perspectives of ‘Territory’ remain consistent with the powerful formations the artist has been known for since the 1980s.
(Thérèse Oulton, Untitled no. 23, 2009, oil on aluminium, 38.1 x 61 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Fine Art, London.)
The nuanced layering of bubbling and fractured surfaces are the work of a geographer of surfaces. Energised fields are shot through with nerve-ended sensation, figured in delicate areas of shifting and corroded substance, of red earth, crackling white stone lines, ivory bridges and highways, or swathes of sombre shadowed green valleys.
The sequence of Territory forms an impressive body of work and again confirms Oulton as a significant voice in her generation.
(top image: Thérèse Oulton, Untitled no. 18, 2009, oil on aluminium, 40.6 x 61 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Fine Art, London.)