At the root of each discipline of architecture, film, and painting lies a concern for the framing of spatial forms. As a former design architect turned full-time visual artist, West has implemented painting as a nod to the shared doctrines of these practices. Past paintings often adopted framing techniques found on the big screen; a film storyboard comes to mind with previous compositions that contained the cast shadow of a figure waiting to enter the scene from beyond the picture plane. The paintings in Villa, however, take a step back from these cinematic tableaus and redirect focus to the architectural spaces that have always played a role in the artist’s work by portraying them in their purest forms.
Void of figures or objects, the empty spaces in the new paintings allow West to focus on the compositional elements, like line and color, that provide the core of his interests. To one end, the emphasis on line-work connects the series to the schematics of an architectural blue-print constructing the most basic elements of a room: the shape of an archway or the frame of a window. To the other end, West’s draftsmanship undoubtedly remains firmly rooted in the tradition of painting. While the linear elements first appear to be fastidiously placed, closer inspection pleasantly reveals the hand of the artist throughout, imbuing a more personal warmth to the paintings that is further reinforced with West’s use of a linen ground.
Color has also gotten paired down in this new work. Some paintings are rendered entirely in hues of one color while others rarely go beyond the use of two or three. In simplifying his color palette, each individual painting can be drastically different by altering minimal components. Otherwise similar compositions lend dramatically disparate atmospheres with the simple change of a color.
While many elements like these have been scaled-back and simplified, the work in Villas is nonetheless a thrilling advancement in West’s practice. Through this uncomplicated approach, West has reinforced the conceptual framework of his paintings wherein the potential for exploration is limitless.
Heath West: Villas
Exhibition Dates: Through October 6, 2018
Galleri Urbane Marfa + Dallas
2277 Monitor Street
Dallas, TX, 75207