For his first one-person exhibition in Palm Beach, Julian Lethbridge will present new oil paintings alongside a selection of works on paper in toner wash, and ink and gouache drawings.
Lethbridge’s paintings use a network of raised lines on the surface of the canvas to halt and reverse flows of pigment. After applying an initial layer of paint, the artist scores predetermined lines on the surface of the canvas, pressing in such a way that the paint rises around the incision into a sharp ridge. The lines form a composition in relief, providing a structural base on which the brushwork will take place. By fixing a geometric foundation before beginning the brushwork, the artist frees his hand entirely to focus on the application of a bold palette of complimentary colors, typically in two tones. At certain stages Lethbridge uses the foundational lines to guide the selective removal of paint, creating smooth veil-like absences that reveal layers of depth. The underlying geometry tames the tightly wielded flow of pigment, while the necessarily arbitrary brushstrokes reintroduce ambiguity and inform an overall rhythm.
The artist’s singular painting style was informed by the multidimensional brushstrokes in a series of works from the early 2000s made with toner, the fine black powder found inside old fashioned photocopy machines. Suspended in alcohol, the pigment remains liquid when brushed across the surface of the paper, allowing subsequent markings to form alternately positive and negative brushstrokes of intense fluidity and depth.
A group of ink and gouache drawings also make use of a temporary structure on the surface of the paper. When the network of parallel lines is removed, ribbons of negative space are revealed. The process used to make these drawings, and the resulting image, can be considered a reversal of the technique at play in the paintings.