Tate St Ives Catalogue Foreword

Luke Frost is the sixth artist to emerge from the Tate St Ives Artist Residency.

Following a year working in Number 5, Porthmeor Studios in St Ives, Frost has had the opportunity to push the potential of his paintings to a new scale of ambition.

An abstract painter, his work explores the pictorial possibilities of colour. Built up in layers to a refined, smooth surface, these strictly formal arrangements pose the saturation, rhythm, balance and contrast of colour against architectural space.

Perhaps unwittingly, the viewer is drawn into this visual equation, particularly as the sparseness and simplicity of his canvases are at first quietly reassuring. They nod to a familiar art of the 1960s - most notably the American minimalists, offering a sense of self containment in their consistent, flat surfaces and seemingly regular permutations.

Yet with time, as the eyes adjust, the faint shifts of hue, the resonances between modulated and contrasting colours, the stretch from sharp detail to expansive space or edge to centre, the subtle asymmetry and the interplay between wall and canvas, canvas and canvas, canvas and the viewer - activate an inescapable physical participation in Frost's 'sensational' visual agenda.

A 'sustained irresolution' ensues - something which the artist Trevor Bell has remarked as being essential to the dynamics of his own large-scale shaped canvases.

Working in the expansive space and light of studio Number 5 the response to the viewer both to individual paintings and to his collective arrangements, has been Frost's primary focus for experiment. From this enquiry, the new corner pieces have emerged.

Painted on aluminium these works, for the moment, take a turn towards sculpture. Singularly, they saturate the field of vision when viewed from the centre, disrupting all sense of perspective and mobilising the 'volts' to new illusory depths.

However, they also operate as a bridge between two architectural planes of the gallery, realising a desire to broaden the dialogue across the dimensions of the entire space.

© Tate St Ives 2009

By Sara Hughes (Curator)
Martin Clark (Artistic Director Tate St Ives)