WE BREATHE THE SAME SKY
This body of work is rooted in memories of Somerset. Its hills, fields, streams, earth and skies provided the backdrops to my experiences as a child. Loo- king back at this time, my relationhip with my rural origins has always in part defined me. During the last wo years this sentiment has amplified. I feel more aware of this connection, which is becoming increasingly evident in my painting.
London-based artist Liam Stevens (Somerset, 1985) works in layered pigment washes with pencil on canvas, and constructed reliefs. His creations are composed of repeated lines and forms, creating a sense of rhythm in the negative space. “I am often working with elements that have no compositional hierarchy, as the component parts are all the same size” he says. “I look for sets of rules, of repeated groupings or clusters, to suggest a rhythm that the viewer is subconsciously aware of, but also not aware of. There is something safe and familiar about repetition; we use it to make sense of the world around us, and our response to it can evoke deep contemplation.”
Stevens’s paintings and reliefs have been exhibited at Fotokino in Marseille, One Four in Seoul, and a touring show with the publisher Booklet in Tokyo. A tranquil quality emerges from his creative process. “Each canvas is stained with pigment washes up to 30 times” he says. “I focus on certain areas, and work more quickly over others, to create different inflections on the surface. I find this methodical application very calming, and hope that the final piece exhibits a kind of perfect imperfection.”
The use of linen and its inherent organic properties is important in creating the distinct natural ground on which the numerous pigment washes are able to establish their territory. In some pieces my process highlights the gridde
weave of the linen, creating areas of natural linear punctuation and rhythm-themes I revisit within my practice. These traces of layered pigment both erase and form detail, responding to structured details initially defined in contrast to the ground and pushing them further into the surface. In some places burying them completely.
Foundations in pencil are also obscured by the movement of water and pigment, imparting what I feel is a layering of the natural world. Overlapping devised and improvised on the same plane provides a counterpoint to the ruled lines on the surface and a field for the properties of the materials to apply their own instinctive character.
To me, these pieces are objects of lived experience and a response to sentiments surrounding the elemental beauty of a time and place I know. An homage to a life I found myself revisiting in pictures and memories during a prolonged interval when travel was not permissible. The work returns me to a horizon I had long since crossed, and a sky to which I will forever be connected.