Zanny Mellor is interested in spatial and temporal themes, making comparisons between personal, geological and urban timeframes. Her process-led, abstract painting practice employs a tempered gestural language where fluidity is a defining material concern and a tension between control and chance is explored. Her comparison of speeds from gradual to instantaneous considers a personal pace within the context of organic and industrial action.
Erasure is a process that often links her varying themes and material uses. Taking reference from geological processes, removing the paint has become as important as the addition of it to examine states of presence and remembrance.
Exploring these binaries, Mellor became interested in a sense of being with or without sight in her first trip to Iceland while walking through geothermal mists and fog. The repetitive and reductive actions used in the photogram series Blind Light and other complex systems of mark-making, were derived from manually un-focussing a camera lens to emulate the loss of sight experienced and these works create an out-of-focus aesthetic that activates and challenges a viewer’s perception. Here the physical removal of paint challenges the fixity of a gesture, questioning our expectations of a medium and exploring a boundary between temporal and physical layering.
The recent Chasing Light series explores the quality of light in Arctic summer from Mellor’s second trip to Iceland in 2016 which was characterised by travelling west to experience the full length of each day. Quick painting actions are rendered soft in ripples of peach and grey, while colour appears to glow through from under layers. In this series she has begun to use gradation of tone and low contrast to explore a subject she sees as never wholly present or absent.
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