Tim Needham and Richard Hatfield are two of the founders of The Ropewalk and have been exhibiting together for over fifteen years. This latest show features paintings and prints created in the last few months and includes some larger scale works especially produced for The Artspace.
Hatfield & Needhams’ interest in painting stretches back through careers that began just 1 year apart. Working independently, both find common ground in their references to landscape, yet it is their divergent approaches which spark the dialogue in this show.
Needhams’ concern for the formal qualities of painting and the painting as object – the importance of the frame, the edge, the physicality and formality of the canvas – touches on ideas of sculpture. And whilst both artists share a concern for surface and the very particular qualities of paint and the act of painting itself, Hatfields’ approach brings ideas of addition and subtraction to surface, through layering, working and re-working the medium.
For Needham, un-primed canvas is of particular appeal. Paint is often applied almost as stain, irrevocably making its mark within the frame and creating the energetic drive behind the piece. Often working on location in the open air, his interest in form and colour is sometimes contrasted with particular geometries – formal elements which juxtapose the apparent freedom of the painterly act. These impasto, or raised areas, bring an almost imperceptible terrain to the canvas.
Whilst Needhams’ works appear to stem from indefinite vantage points, Hatfield takes the idea of location, and of landscape itself, as an expansive vista of infinite potential. He works paint into multilayered and complex surfaces, where, through repeated attention, he seeks to reveal a critical moment of harmony in the life of the work. This approach finds dramatic effect even in the smallest of works, where, through mixing colour directly onto the painting, hues and tones emerge, appearing to have almost seeped out of the environment and into the surface of the painting.
For both artists, their work is a way of looking and documenting, but also an enquiry where the artist may re-imagine, and perhaps re-animate their evolving relation to the wider world.
Having first met when each relocated to North Lincolnshire, they now occupy a shared studio space at The Ropewalk. Within this showing, both artists choose to place their independent practices in dialogue, highlighting the ways in which the disparate and common themes of their works intersect and collide.
Gill Hobson, artist and writer.