Melissa Wraxall

Intensely coloured expressionist abstraction is my response to the strange new post-truth, pandemic-stricken world we now live in. Making these paintings and drawings, represents a kind of conceptual freedom for me; free from figuration, narrative or fixed meanings. These new works have developed gradually out of work made during and after my MFA when I produced a series of painterly, gestural figurative paintings and drawings based on archival black and white photographs.

One aspect of my painting practice that has remained constant is the kind of marks and gestures that I make. I find that the marks often appear to suggest movement in three-dimensional space. My recent experiments with non-conventional tools has added to my vocabulary of techniques, producing a broader range of contrasting textures from scumbled or scratched surfaces, or translucent glazes, to thickly rendered impasto. Each application of colour can either fully or partially conceal, or highlight what has been applied before. I choose when to allow the drips and runs, when to keep an unexpected result, and when to shape or alter the outcome. Sometimes colour is wiped or abraded back, and these acts of destruction can often form an important element in the history and character of the work.

I start with no preconceived notion of what the finished work will look like, embracing chance and improvisation, so it is impossible to predict with any certainty how the paint will behave or the colours interact. Decisions about what to apply next onto a given work, are made in an intuitive way, and every mark or gesture is a response to what has already been applied. The paintings are built up in a series of layers, juxtaposing often strongly contrasting colours. As each layer of oil paint needs a lot of time to dry, especially when employing impasto techniques, it allows me to work on a number of different paintings concurrently.

The titles of these paintings are free associations derived from visual elements of the works which emerge as they take shape; these could be related to subjects as diverse as biology, space, culture, technology or politics. The image is not intended as an illustration of the title; nor is the title designed to lend any specific meaning to the image. My work is primarily focused on the exploration of colour, and the material possibilities of paint, graphite or pastel, without the need for representation or symbolism.