Selected texts and reviews



Pivot


Mura


Untitled


Installation COLOUR/STRUCTURE Thames -Side Gallery London February 2022


Installation COLOUR/STRUCTURE Thames -Side Gallery London February 2022


Commutato Private Collection Italy


Not titled


INTAGLIO


Across Colour, Cabinet Room Emma Hill Eagle Gallery, London 2021


Leporello II 2016 Private Collection UK


Leporello #120121Private Collection UK


Contrappunto (DS) 2018


Accentato (Blu) 2019


In Four ( Green, Pink, Ochre, Cadmium ) 2019


Doubles and Trios 2019


PLAYTIME installation September 2019


Solo show Three Works Scarborough 2019


Solo show Three Works Scarborough 2019


Studio installation


Mercus Barn installation


The Drawing Collective at #21 Abstract Project, Paris 2016


Three Works installed Weymouth 2015


Colour in Place


TRANSFER


4 Part Study


Mercus Barn installation


Colour/Boundary at the Slade Summer School


Not Titled (Orange Fan ) Private Collection.UK


Installation Colour/Boundary, Gallery North, Newcastle 2014


Colour in Place (Colore nei Luoghi)


Surface Connections, Holden Gallery Manchester
Conversations in Colour

Abstract painting with a geometric conception, this is how we could define Sharon Hall's artistic practice. But this label fails to fully convey the final results achieved by this English painter. In fact, her paintings have a special freshness. If the starting intention seems to be to build works in which the division of spaces is regulated in a very exact and rational way, the final outcome is surprising because it possesses a fascinating visual softness, evident when looking at her works not on the screen of a computer, but live, when it is possible to savor the velvety concreteness of the colours. The colours, in fact, which in each canvas are combined with great accuracy: they occupy contiguous monochrome sectors and interact with each other intensely. This conversation of colors takes place in every single work of Sharon Hall, it is a dynamic that represents the soul of her paintings. Warm shades - red, green, orange, yellow - spread over the canvases, creating a comforting effect, releasing their quiet intensity. These works contain a very stimulating contrast. An exact grid is always present, a rigorous division of space, but this rigidity of the forms is modified by the colors that inhabit these boundaries, created and combined with masterly sensitivity.

Pittura astratta di concezione geometrica, potremmo definire così la pratica artistica di Sharon Hall. Ma questa etichetta non riesce a rendere pienamente i risultati finali a cui arriva questa pittrice inglese. I suoi quadri infatti sono dotati di una freschezza speciale. Se l'intenzione di partenza sembra quella di costruire opere in cui la divisione degli spazi è regolata in modo molto esatto e razionale, l'esito finale sorprende perché possiede una affascinante morbidezza visiva, evidente quando si guardano le sue opere non sullo schermo di un computer, ma dal vivo, quando è possibile assaporare la concretezza vellutata dei colori. 

I colori, appunto, che in ogni tela sono accostati con grande accuratezza: occupano settori monocromi contigui e dialogano fra loro intensamente. Questa conversazione dei colori si svolge in ogni singola opera di Sharon Hall, è una dinamica che rappresenta l'anima dei suoi dipinti. Tonalità calde- rosso, verde, arancione, giallo- si distendono sopra le tele costruendo un effetto confortante, sprigionano una loro quieta intensità. Queste opere contengono un contrasto molto stimolate. E' sempre presente una griglia esatta, una suddivisione dello spazio rigorosa, ma questa rigidità delle forme viene modificata dai colori che abitano questi confini, creati ed accostati con magistrale sensibilità.


Galleria Stanza 251
2023

Before and After Photography the Journal of Contemporary Painting Issue 7 vol 1 and 2

Paintings by Sharon Hall employ a [ ] structure of diagonals that converge without suggesting perspective depth. In Contrapunto (DS) (2018) they radiate from the geometric centre of the rectangle. In Accentata (Blu) (2019) they join the top to the bottom progressing laterally across the painting. The diagonals in In Four (Green, Pink, Ochre, Cadmium) (2019) and In Four (Blue, Yellow, Green, Terra Verde) (2019) connect the left and right sides of painting, marking out four tapering sections each given a different chromatic value. These sections appear as forms, kinetically relating to one another on the same plane. They participate in a space that seems to me to conform to Greenberg’s notion of picture making. ‘Pictorial space joins and contains, and by containing makes everything it shows discontain itself and surrender itself to a unity, which in turn contains itself’ (Greenberg 2003). The dynamism of the angles connecting the verticals creates a tension that is potentially disrupting. If the diagonals had been horizontals each section would be independent or ‘contained’. By using diagonals, the shape of the wedges influences or adjusts to the shape of the adjacent areas. The forms are thus ‘discontained’ to surrender themselves to a unity bounded by the finite area of the picture’s dimensions.


David Sweet
2020

The Power Art #72

Each colour section has its own character and communicates with its adjacent neighbours, developing an innermost dialogue. These perceptions are enhanced through Hall’s use of bright and vibrant colours. Instinctively hard-edged painters like Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly and Joseph Albers with their monochromatic fields of clean-edged colour, come to mind, emphasising the flatness of the canvas surface. In contrast, Hall plays with different textures when composing her colour segments, offering a distinctive twist. Her geometric elements can be found in human designed environments, such as medieval and modern buildings as well as interiors. It is evident that these symmetrical and ordered components can be translated into architectural plans or layouts. In Hall’s case they can be interpreted as close intersections, elevations and passages. From time to time, she separates diagonal and rectangle colour wedges with wide and narrow stripes, or else, blocks of encroaching colours are introduced; with each method she crafts unique vantage points. The beauty of Hall's paintings is delivered through the filter of her creative spirit and her well trained eye.


Renée Pfister
2022

Across Colour

The installation combines a number of Hall’s abstract paintings with a recent series of ‘leporello’ book works, which extend her explorations of colour, light and space, across folded paper pages and into three dimensions.
Hall’s work is distinguished by its subtle manipulations of layered transparencies of paint on supports of gesso panel and linen canvas: ‘Held by geometrical armatures, intense colour bands divide surfaces into sections.Their pulsating planes evoke minute, barely perceptible rhythms that nuance the firm and measurable time invoked by the pictorial architectonic.’ (Kamini Vellodi, ‘Painting and Time,’ Playtime catalogue,Arthouse1,2019)
Whilst working within parameters of a contemporary, formalist language of abstraction, her paintings carry an emotional resonance that refers back to traditions of the quattrocento, revealing how light affects the nuances and poetic qualities of colour.
In 2016 Hall began making folded paper structures that allowed her to experiment with light and shadow, creating optical illusions in relation to the surface of the two dimensional images and the three dimensional space they imply. Using acrylic, watercolour glazes and washes soaked into paper, she threads and weaves enormously sophisticated colour relationships across the zig zag structures.


Emma Hill
2021

Sharon Hall Paintings


The geometrical scaffolding of the paintings is precisely as complex as it needs to be for the colour to do its work. In his essay ‘On Colour’ from The Salon of 1846 the poet Charles Baudelaire writes: “As the sunlight changes, tones change in value but, always respecting their sympathies and natural antipathies, continue to live in harmony through reciprocal connections.” These words could serve to describe Hall's colour modulations.  Tone-colour values are deployed in asymmetrical groups: dark, very dark, light, and very light, together with multiple nuances of warm and cool, strong and weak, that form a contrapuntal relationship with the symmetrical geometry. The geometry is the framework that enables this exchange system to function effectively.
 


David Saunders
2019

Painting and Time

[...] it is inorganic regularity that seems to characterise Sharon Hall’s paintings. Held by geometrical armatures, intense colour bands divide surfaces into sections. Their pulsating planes evoke minute, barely perceptible rhythms that nuance the firm and measurable time invoked by the pictorial architectonic.

Kamini Vellodi extract from essay Painting and Time in Playtime catalogue Arthouse1 London 2019


Kamini Vellodi
2019

The Diagonal:David Sweet with Sharon Hall #22 Turps Magazine

[ ] sections appear as forms, kinetically relating to one another on the same plane. They participate in a space that seems to me to conform to Clement Greenberg’s notion of picture making. ‘Pictorial space joins and contains, and by containing makes everything it shows discontain itself and surrender itself to a unity, which in turn contains itself.’ The dynamism of the angles connecting the verticals creates a tension that is potentially disrupting.[ ]  By using diagonals the shape of the wedges influences or adjusts to the shape of the adjacent areas. The forms are thus ‘discontained’ to surrender themselves to a unity bounded by the finite area of the picture’s dimensions.

David Sweet 2019


 


David Sweet
2020

Sharon Hall : Three Works X 3

 The painterly language that informs Sharon Hall’s works is rooted in the experience and knowledge of how light works in painting.  Hall went to paint in Italy in 1990 when she was awarded a Rome Scholarship and it is possible that both her intense feeling for place and the colour language of her mature style come, at least partly, from her experience of Italy and Italian painting.   It is not so much the 'correct' chiaroscuro of the high Renaissance that interests her as the poetic-symbolic colour of the masters of the quattrocento, such as Fra Filippo Lippi, and also of the Mannerist, Jacopo Pontormo, that guides her in her quest for that ineffable sense of place that painting can evoke.

The geometrical scaffolding of the paintings is precisely as complex as it needs to be for the colour to do its work. In his essay 'On Colour' from The Salon of 1846 the poet Charles Baudelaire writes: “As the sunlight changes, tones change in value but, always respecting their sympathies and natural antipathies, continue to live in harmony through reciprocal connections.” These words could serve to describe Hall's colour modulations.  Tone-colour values are deployed in asymmetrical groups: dark, very dark, light, and very light, together with multiple nuances of warm and cool, strong and weak, that form a contrapuntal relationship with the symmetrical geometry. The geometry is the framework that enables this exchange system to function effectively. 

The photograph on the front cover of the catalogue for Hall's solo exhibition entitled Colour in Place in the Palazzo del Podestà, Pescia, Italy in 2013 shows two very small paintings on an empty expanse of wall. Scale is given by the inclusion of a stack of larger paintings face to the wall.  It is due to their extreme clarity and economy that these small paintings have a presence out of proportion to their size.  To make a very small painting seem large is always felt as a triumph by a painter.  Not only is this colour in space – it creates a space. 

 


David Saunders
2019

Colour Boundary

Abstract Critical

 

Sharon Hall’s work is also strongly related to this tradition of ‘weightless’ abstract painting, calling to mind Kenneth Noland’s ‘chevron’ paintings especially. Her work adopts more evenly-applied zones of colour as an armature. Unlike Sweet, she does not vary the texture of her brushmarks, and her zones of colour neatly abut one another. Consequently, each area of colour takes on a more significant role. Some of the most successful works by Hall make use of asymmetrical arrangements: these allow the colours to function in structurally surprising ways. The quietly luxuriant Untitled (Orange Fan) (2009) is built upon a rational division of diagonally-subtended wedges of colour which radiate outwards from the centre of the canvas. Neither the division of the wedges, nor the colours used, are divided symmetrically: this decision gives the impression that the canvas ‘swings’ across the surface in a semi-clockwise movement. However, the strong cadmium red. which is just off-centre, prevents the painting from swinging too wildly off-kilter, ‘holding’ the composition together in a fragile equilibrium.

Hall also works successfully within the tondo format. This was rarely used in Western painting as it was difficult to reconcile with representational pictorial space. Abstract painting is more amenable to the format, but it poses its own challenges. Hall utilises a small scale, but the tondo format is successful in lending the work a sense of weightlessness. Tondo with Linen (2011) consists of six segments varying sizes. The upper half consists of three larger variations of grey, while the lower half consists of smaller segments of dull orange, ochre and grey-blue. Again, the zones of colour vary depending upon the ‘weight’ of the colour: the cooler segments requiring a larger zone in order to balance the smaller zones of warmer hues. Hall’s rectangular formats pose more of a difficulty in that the zones of colour are ordered in a more symmetrical fashion. In works such as Not Titled (Yellow Diagonals) (2011), Hall offsets this by utilising very closely-valued zones of lemon against the bare canvas, to lend the work a subtle radiance. However, the more assymetrical works create more pictorial interest for the viewer.


Stephen Moonie
2014

Eye and Mind #1

Catalogue Essay, Eye and Mind, The Mercus Barn, Mercus-Garrabet, Midi Pyrenees, France 2015

Sharon Hall’s paintings find complexity through colour rather than form, which is to say that a deliberately transparent permutation of geometric form becomes a context for the subtle shifts in colour relationships, that can be further explored as the paintings comprise more than one interchangeable panel. The resolved state of a complete painting is in Hall’s words “found”, through trial and error—the initial structure an adequate, or neutral armature, on which to place colour. Optically, there are also shifts of space that reflect the positive-negative aspects of the structure where there is also a tonal contrast. Take, In Part Sequence (Orange, Yellow, Terra Verde) 2014, in which this constant realignment of the segments of colour is a product of the duration of viewing. The rational construction of repeated triangles connected with a partial and implied grid is counterpoint to the structuring influence of the reduced chromatic range of orange, yellow and green. In, In Part Stacked Painting (GreenOrange, Yellow, White,) 2014, surface incidents from making—the action of a brush as well as characteristics such as absorbency—are all incorporated rather than illuminated. The two part painting, an overall vertical, the upper part of which is horizontal, reflects a duality in its repeated doubling—of two panels, and two pairs of triangles and displays a motion not unlike serial or fugue patterns in musical composition. In Hall’s paintings system and unitary repetition are willingly undermined rhythmically and not relied upon to provide cohesion—they represent a necessary premise that is then exposed to reconfigurations vis-à-vis colour.


 


David Rhodes
2015

Not Titled (Orange Fan ) COLOUR Boundary catalogue essay

The painting’s structure is based on rational divisions of its surface area, first into two, around the perpendicular centre line, with the resultant pair of rectangles subdivided by diagonals drawn from the top corners to the mid-point of the bottom edge. These simple moves establish what emerges as a gestalt, namely an inverted pyramid, balanced on its apex. But the work is not symmetrical. The right hand triangle is further divided into three more areas that are not answered on the left. These three shapes are perceived slightly differently to those within the pyramid. They seem to move in a one-sided clock-wise movement, adding a dynamic in terms of geometry, which is taken up by the colour, swinging through the spectrum from orange to yellows, deep then pale. The closeness in hue of the orange allows it to hang off the edge of the cadmium red, but the red, which is the key architectural element in the painting, is strong enough to support it. 

The surface is consistent throughout, while the density of the pigment confirms that the colour is ‘built’ out of the traditional material of painting, selected from the traditional palette rather than from the refraction of white light arranged around a colour wheel. The geometry is also practical rather than aspiring to the art of pure relationships. Left of centre the ambient chromatic temperature changes. The blue, ochre and umber represent the earth colours ranged against the more luxurious cadmiums, dividing the light in the painting virtually into two seasons. This gives rise to the significant visual experience offered by the painting, created by the contrast between the conditions across the recto/verso axis. It is as though the eye is taking a journey from north to south through several latitudes, sweeping left to right, from grey-blue to pale yellow, before returning to the chromatic and formal hospitality provided by the red triangle.

 

 

 

 


David Sweet
2014

Colour Boundary Peel Review

Peel Magazine

COLOUR/Boundary is artist and curator David Sweet’s vision. A proposition, investigation, and area of research, ‘colour in painting’ resides at the centre of this thesis. Northumbria University have motive to hold such an exhibition in Gallery North, as their Colour Studio Northumbria (CSN) shares interests in the central themes of the exhibition. It’s not just at Northumbria University though, ‘Colour Research in Painting,’ it seems, is gaining reputation through other institutes such as the Slade School of Fine Art in London, and the Academy of Fine Art in Helsinki.

Colour is not a new concern within painting. In the early 16th century Titian’s disregard for the rules of composition in favour of a concern with colour, was one of the first major investigations into colour as a vehicle within painting2. Leaping forward to the 19th and 20th century, Paul Klee used colours and shades to create a feeling of balance or ‘rightness’3, and Mondrian was concerned with exploring the relationship between elementary colours.4It seems that more so than any other fine art practice, painting certainly has a hold over matters of colour.

Entering Gallery North, it is a minimalist hang. Mostly small paintings are hung formally on white walls, each artist displays two or three paintings side by side, and as the space is navigated, one observes each artist’s work in turn.  It’s a fairly conservative set-up, but it seems appropriate for the works on displayModest paintings by Caroline de Lannoy seem to initiate the exhibition; two small square boards hang side by side; according to the list of works, they are both part of a series of works titled Re-echo (2013). The compositions are a division of space via lines (creating precise geometric sections), and each of which is painted in hues of the same colour; in the case of these two paintings, red and green. They looked, to me, familiar; modernist renderings of a spectrum of hues. Lannoy’s works seem to evoke the deconstruction of fields of vision and the separation of colours through geometric forces. The alchemy of colour seems of significant importance, the precise mixing of gradients of colour and also the application of the paint in such a way as to remove the artists’ hand told me that this was not a painting born of passion, but of science.

Moving on, I found myself drawn to a painting by Mali Morris. Titled Wilbury (2012), the wet translucent repetitive brush strokes build a lattice, and at the front of the picture plane, a series of circular motifs are painted in flat colour. There is intensity in the latticework. Each layer has been painted out of synch with the prior, some of the colours are muddied and blurred from working wet on wet, whilst the ground of vivid colour holds true and firm. There is a tension between the wet painterly latticework and the hard-edged circular motifs. The paintings of Morris explore the boundaries of different kind of pictorial spaces, using colour and opacity as the means for this separation.

In the accompanying catalogue to COLOUR/Boundary, David Sweet sets out his curatorial agenda, drawing up a compelling dialogue through which he creates a comparison between the role of music in film, to the role of colour in painting. He compiles a short history of colour in painting from the 16th and 17th century via the Impressionists, to arrive at the modern day, all the while proposing that the works on display in COLOUR/Boundary involve an ‘invented terrain’ in which ‘colour relationships become visible within chosen boundaries’5 (Sweet, 2014).

Of Sharon Hall’s paintings, the work ‘Not titled (White Diagonals with Linen)’ (2013) grabs my attention. A small linen canvas is primed with a transparent ground. White diagonals stretch out from the centre of the canvas to the frame, and within these sections we find white triangles of different opacities. The result is a refined study of the relationship between the pure white and textile of the linen. The opaque white paint moves to translucent white, and then bare linen. The white paint acts as a device to create a separation between reality and painted space, the tools of a painter laid bare.

In contrast to the other paintings on display, Clyde Hopkins presents a series of larger paintings that use a much wider array of colours, forms and marks. His energetic paintings feature swirling colourful forms sat atop pointillist renderings of organic forms. I am reminded of sedimentary layers in the earth, the twisting branches of trees and of cellular structures. His palette is diverse, but tonally muted, as if one were viewing colour through a heat wave. His investigation into colour is chaotic, the eye sweeps across the surface of the picture plane, restless, and the vast amount of visual information tricks the retina and the colours and forms change with each dart of the eye.

 

David Sweet, in line with his curatorial vision, presents his own work. The alchemy of paint sings from his paintings, especially in ‘Moulin Rouge’ (2013). Made in response to Matisse’s ‘L’Escargot,’ the composition is a geometrical rendering, with a central diamond motif surrounded by coloured rectangular subdivisions. Colour, and its placement within the pictorial space, is the central goal of this work. Sweet recognises this within the catalogue, in which he suggests that the opposition of primary colours is breached via the use of green, which is of course born of blue and yellow and also the complementary of red. Sweet’s methodology is one of carful consideration of how colour constitutes the painted form, and through minimalist renderings in paint he is able to investigate and manipulate this process.

 

COLOUR/Boundary goes a long way in achieving a visual thesis of the use of colour and it’s boundaries within painting. The works on display evidence different approaches to this theme, and provoke one to look and think, closer and deeper. Thinking about the other paintings on display in Newcastle at the present time, whilst not as avant-garde as ‘Riff/t,’ or as summative as ‘Painting Past Present: A Painter’s Craft,’ ‘COLOUR/Boundary’ presents a much more academic, even scientific, approach to painting. Paring painting down to its quintessential concerns, I am again reminded of Braque, and reflect that sometimes, it’s the most overt statement that is the most thought provoking.

Rachel McDermott is an Artist and Writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

 


Rachel McDermott
2014

The Drawing Collective at #21 Abstract Project, Paris 2016

Cet ensemble de peintures et de gouaches, représenté ici dans les photographies, étudie les différentes manières dont les propriétés de la couleur et les structures géométriques simples peuvent travailler ensembles. Il résulte de leur interaction une résonance optique et un décalage de spatialité qui transcendent leur apparence simple. Cette série explore la matérialité physique ainsi que les plus insaisissables qualités de lumière et de translucidité. Elle reflète mon rapport à la place non seulement à travers la manière dont peuvent opérer la lumière et l'ombre dans un cadre architectural mais aussi dans ce qu'elle de mon intérêt pour la couleur ancrée et certaines traditions italiennes de fresques et de peintures murales.


Sharon Hall, translation Vincent Patillet
2016