Eleven Howland is pleased to present Robert Dowling's first solo exhibition since his graduation from the Royal College of Art in 2008. This is the first in a series of exhibitions at Eleven Howland that will focus on the work of young and emerging artists.
Dowling's large-scale paintings are assembled from individual elements that are hand-cast and finished to resemble tautly stretched canvas. Though illusionism is not the suggested painterly mode, the works are decidedly ambiguous in both their materiality and poise. Reliant on the unfixed variables of light and space, each painted screen is animated by the observer's movement across the viewing field. Geometric shapes pop back and forth, creating a pulsing depth and play of light across the brush-marked monochrome surfaces.
Manifold possible configurations suggest an endless flexibility and yet the works' form and dimensions are resolute. Bleached fabric pieces counter the velvet black void of the paintings. Wafer-thin 'canvasses' gobble light like rectilinear black holes, suggesting escape or oblivion. Skeletal floor-based works appear brittle and fragile in comparison to the leathery patina of the modular paintings only to reveal the worked and dogged materiality of hand-carved wood.
Process eventually betrays itself through traces of the maker's hand. Adopting a sculptural approach to making paintings, Dowling uses a variety of hand-made techniques to disrupt the common distinction between craft and mass-production, echoing and yet confounding the methodologies and processes of minimalism. Geometric forms purged of all metaphor, equality of parts, repetition, 'neutral' surfaces and industrial materials are re-explored and re-deployed to test the notion that there is almost nothing there.
Robert Dowling (born 1979, London) graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2008. Recent exhibitions include Maximal Minimal, Andreas Grimm, Munich (2009); Robert Dowling, Tim Ellis, Nick Goss, Michael Pybus, Jiajia Wang, Alexandre Pollazzon, London (2008); New Build Terrace, London (2007) and Stellasphere, Andrews Road, London (2005).
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