From Sharne Wolff…
The hero image in Mitch Cairns’ solo exhibition titled Painting in Increments foregrounds a large hand. White chess pawns are delicately balanced between four fingers and thumb. Behind is the possibility of a Janus-faced figure – although, intriguingly, we can’t really be sure if that’s what the artist intended. In his usual reduced palette – shades of blue, black and white in this case – Cairns’ latest paintings have become increasingly complex and layered. Alongside colour however, these paintings bear the artist’s stamp – it’s a particular way with line, curve and shape.
As a painter who’s also an illustrator and cartoonist, Cairns actively draws on cubist and futurist styles of painting while occasionally saluting Dada. Like all good cartoonists his keen sense of observation sits adeptly between comic and tragic – with Honeymoon and Close Encounter providing two wonderful examples. Although decipherable with the aid of their titles, the experience of Cairns’ text works seems to lie with their visual effect. Abstract pictures depict inner Sydney’s urban landscapes of White Bay, Mort Bay and the NAS [National Art School] where the artist earned his stripes. Sometimes it’s the small things that count. Look out for some perfectly placed shapes including the small Z-like character toward the centre of NAS.
Until March 14
The Commercial, Redfern
Pic: Mitch Cairns, Painting in Increments 2014, oil on linen, 137 x 122cm. Courtesy the artist and The Commercial.