The Human Touch

Dark is an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Frances Aviva  Blane, which will be at the De Queeste Art Gallery in Abele/Watou, Belgium from 11 November to  9 December 2018.  Blane's work can be seen at the John Moores 2018 Prize  at the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool until 18 November 2018

Original article by Corinna Lotz on

Hospital.149 x 140cms oil on linen

There is a frenzy about it. Broad strokes of red mixed with black are smeared across white, with spots and spiky lines looping around the edge, as if exploding into the white linen. Thin lines are etched across, so that the central mass seems to retreat into a deep opacity. It’s frightening – there could even be a head or a face behind that messy mass of paint. 

Is there something there which has been obscured? We want to know what it was, and then we don’t need to know. We can just revel in the sheer abandon, the energy, the exuberant contrasts, the looping, leaping trails of paint, the random spots.

There is no apparent reference to a person or an event.  But because Frances Aviva Blane’s show is being held at the De Queeste Art Gallery in Flanders and opens on the centenary of Armistice Day, her work gains an historical resonance. Deepening this connection, her painting 1914 features at an Armistice Day poetry event in London on November 6. 

De Queeste Art Gallery is located in Abele/Watou near Ypres on the French-Belgium border, where half a million soldiers perished in World War I. It’s close to the village of Poperinge, just behind the front lines, where dozens of so-called deserters were shot at dawn by the military authorities.

Blane says, with her usual candour: “My paintings have nothing to do with the war. I have not experienced it. But because the show opens on November 11, it’s made me think more about that time.”

Dark. 90 x 90cms oil on linen

Her steadfast distancing from any overt associations makes her work doubly intriguing, thought-provoking and – finally,  deeply emotional.  

The stunningly lyrical Fall is dominated by dark blacks and greys, enhanced by smouldering touches of deep pink and orange. Scrawls and drips career through. An empty white space at the bottom invades the stormy cloud of blacks, which fall down and recede upwards simultaneously. 

The rhythm of thick impastos and thin washes draws your eye in and out, up and down. No  “theme” or “subject” or “narrative” – but so many movements of material substances. It is the suggested lifting of an enormous weight and the end of a shocking darkness, that makes this so relevant to the horror of war and its ending.

Read the full article here