Circuit
10 July - 2 August 2008

cir·cuit n
1. a route that follows a curved course and finishes where it began
2. a single complete journey around a circular route or path
3. the places visited by somebody on a regular circuit, eg. a circuit court judge
4. a route around which an electrical current can flow
5. a complete round of exercises in circuit training

Stuart Fleming's new show, Circuit, continues his series of finely tuned works based on the repetition of a circle. In a previous room sheet at Chalk Horse we wrote:

Fleming allows chance to play its part. It begins with a small 'o' and moves out from there, ending up wherever the form goes and each 'o' is like a compressed gesture, it seems to foreground the painstaking process of 'making' over the finished form.

At the same time there is something in the abstract works of Fleming that seem to ask to be read narratively too. Are the images cellular structures, are the small 'o' little atoms, are the ring structures Tinea corporis (ringworm) creeping along the skin, or galaxies. Moving easily between these two modes, formal and narrative, marks the quality of Fleming's work as an addition to the genre of 'post-modern painting'. Bachelard wrote in his chapter on the miniature:

The man with the magnifying glass quite simply bars the everyday world. He is a fresh eye before a new object. The botanist's magnifying glass is youth recaptured. It gives him back the enlarging gaze of a child.

Fleming embodies this 'fresh eye'.

Fleming's process is worth discussing. Unlike previous shows that were all ink on claybord, Fleming has moved into acrylic on canvas. This change of medium has in no way lessened the intensity of the colour and has only heightened the aspect of time passing. The large single colour works like Violet, show the aspect of chance mentioned above. The form gradually grows in an organic and unintended way. In the multi-colour large works a subtly new addition to Fleming's work has occurred. The works here are more like weavings. One colour is applied to a small patch, then the next colour weaves into the gaps and the third colour completes any spaces left after this process. The edge that occurs becomes the starting point of the next filling in and so the circuit continues, like a tapestry. These works are therefore more symmetrical and more mathematical than their single colour counterparts. They move out from their centres like rosettes.

Finally though to return to the formal characteristics, Fleming's work has a great respect for his material. The inks and paint are left to express their own essence. Like a symbolist poem the colours are their own subject, little drops of liquid stuff. Do the colours themselves ask for particular responses? The beauty of the works is undebatable and belies the skill and patience needed. Fleming can only work at these paintings in half hour stints or his hand will freeze. They are monkish, personal works.

Oliver Watts
July 2008