Philip Gurrey, The Title is a Painting 2011, oil and beeswax on canvas, 150 x 150 cm
Pippy Houldsworth is delighted to present Untitled, a series of new works by young British artist Philip Gurrey. The exhibition will showcase a number of major new paintings, produced since his relocation to Copenhagen, including The Title is a Painting, his largest and most accomplished work to date.
A painter in the most real sense of the word, Gurrey employs paint as a medium with a life of its own. Excited by the visual and textual possibilities that it offers, he pushes it to the extreme, smearing and scratching it across the canvas to create works with a powerful physical presence.
Gurrey's newest work continues his exploration of the junction between figuration and abstraction. Working against the restraint of line, and in opposition to the easy interpretation of imagery, Gurrey begins by laying images on to the canvas, before working and re-working them into abstraction, buried beneath layers of paint. Perceived as blocks of colour from a distance, it is only when approached that the true complexity and intricacy of his semi-abstract canvases becomes visible.The Title is a Painting 2011 (pictured above), viewed from a distance simply as a dark mass, reveals its true colours to the viewer on approach: an intense and vibrant blue surface and layers of richness.
Despite the use of concealment in many of his works, and a deliberate approach towards abstraction, Gurrey remains more than simply an abstract painter. Demonstrating a clear and intelligent use of external sources, he draws on symbolism, religion and historical narratives as points of reference, allowing them to simmer beneath the layers of paint. In spite of this historical awareness, however, Gurrey does not seek to represent or reinforce these narratives. In an attempt to create self-sufficient works of art that exist on their own terms and in their own spheres of reference, he uses such subject matter simply as a mark from which to extrapolate and develop his own ideas, and to push the work of art back into itself.
Manipulating the general terms of the medium, and creating an approach that conceals as much as it reveals, Gurrey has developed a deliberately evocative practice, which evades the predictability of much contemporary painting. His is a fundamental interest in the potentialof paint and of art, pushing imagery to its limits to create new and interesting narratives. Acutely aware of both the possibilities and restrictions of figuration and abstraction, Gurrey's practice hovers precariously between the two.
Philip Gurrey graduated from the Glasgow School of Art with a BA in 2007. He was named as one of Phillips de Pury's 'Young Artists to Watch' with an 'Emerging Artist Profile' in May 2008 and won the Pulse Prize, New York (for emerging artists of distinction) the same year. In September 2011 he will begin his Mlitt Research Masters at the Glasgow School of Art, for which he has been given an unconditional offer. Gurrey is represented by Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London.