The Colour of Time
10 - 18 October 2022
Lara Julian paints stripes. Such paintings tend to be simple, so that the
interaction of colour can be explored with the least distraction. So
what’s striking about Lara Julian’s stripe paintings in ‘The Colour of
Time’ is their complexity.
The stripes themselves are complex. There are too many, practically
speaking, to count them. They are allowed to overlap, and are loosely
applied so that slight irregularities occur. One or two colours normally
dominate, but with many different hues and extensive layering. That
complex surface combines in the eye from a distance, setting up a
contrast between comparative clarity from afar and an intricate interplay of colours from close up. That emphasises the transition between colours.
In addition to the stripes, there is textural interest. Sometimes she creates
it before the stripes are painted on, manipulating the surface all-over by
moulding the paste-like application of thick paint with her hands.
Sometimes she scratches the surface extensively with a palette knife after
the stripes have been painted. And sometimes patterns of sand grains
are applied. And several paintings use the texture to introduce a figurative
element, making an expansion, or explosion.
Julian’s paintings are essentially abstract, but that cues us in to the
possibility of metaphorical meanings. The combination of the universal spectrum of light with explosions and transitions might well suggest the originating Big Bang, the war in Ukraine, a display of fireworks, or the long run of history into which those events very differently fit. That’s
also suggested by the exhibition title, and Julian herself mentions time as
a subject – ‘I was not trying to paint time’, she says, ‘but my feeling
towards it. We can think about how civilisations rise and fall, how the
world is changing fast and faces a lot of challenges.’ That’s not in the paintings’ as such, but it is in the scope of the possible meditations
to which viewers might be led. So it’s up to us, but there is potentially
plenty to think about, as well as plenty at which to look.