Entitled ‘No Man’s Land’, this exhibition included a new series of paintings on paper by painter, Melanie Comber marking a new, more expressionistic departure for the artist.
The concept of place is intrinsic to Comber’s work. The paintings are at once familiar but imbued with an apparent ambiguity – are they aerial photographs of a barren landscape? Or rather an image of material magnified to the point of abstraction? Comber demands a lot of the viewer as we navigate the surface, exploring the sense of depth, both illusory and real: drawn back by perspective lines but hovering on the surface where impastoed paint and dusted pigment create peaks and troughs.
The titles of the works reinforce this emphasis on place and in fact are the foundation of and inform the direction of the painting. For they are less portraits of space and more self-portraits, charting Comber’s own deeply personal response to a particular place or experience. This new body of work is inspired by cartography and the process of rendering a lived and emotional journey onto a symbolic and metaphorical plane is apparent in Comber’s work: they are the residual manifestation of an intensely emotional experience.
Additionally, Comber had begun to work on paper, allowing her greater freedom and experimentation, playing with the draughtsmanship of the medium to introduce a new emphasis on mark-making. The graphic strokes carved into the surface of the paintings are self-conscious and expressionistic, evoking the heavy marks of a de Kooning painting.