The dreamy, ethereal work of Caroline Yates’ solo show, Palimpsest, opened at Wimbledon’s Hicks Gallery on Friday.
A labour of love – described as “a huge developmental leap” – this show marks the artist’s transition from the figurative to the abstract.
Caroline, a Central St Martins and The Royal College of Art graduate, works with oils on canvas, finding inspiration in photography, found imagery, super8 or cine film, with the most notable theme of the crowd ever present throughout the work.
Say says: “Much of [my work] touches on the notion of being in a group or family, but not really engaging with, or even knowing the others.” This common London theme lends a relatability to the show.
“I have a lifelong obsession with the visual formations we as humans form,” she says. She depicts this in the work by use of the palimpsest concept – which is defined as something reused or altered with visible traces of its earlier form.
Her crowd scenes take on a remarkable abstract form as a result of this technique, which she achieves through scraping, rubbing or painting over areas of the work.
“Some of these paintings have other paintings underneath them, most have been newly created, starting with an ‘over-crowded’ base,” she says.
The result is a captivating combination of a sense of space combined with a feel of being crowded.
“Layer by layer areas or figures are eradicated, allowing the landscape of the work to breathe, the empty space being as significant as the figurative,” she says.
The collection on display is a pleasantly surprising blend of the playful and the serious. Pieces such as Red Carpet, Red Shoes are whimsical and bright, while The Wreck is darker, muted and more abstract.
The family-run Hicks Gallery lends itself well to the atmosphere. A charming and chic little gallery, it at once compliments the work as much as the work compliments the space.
“Each painting exists in its own right, but each is a chapter in a story,” says Caroline. I encourage you to head down and let yourself be absorbed within them. I’ve already started saving and picked out a wall at home for my favourite.
Palimpsest is showing now at Hicks Gallery until 27 October.