Alan Green

Angled Whites to Blue Grey


Not on display

Alan Green 1932–2003
Oil paint on 2 canvases
Support, each: 1450 × 1600 mm
Presented by the artist's estate 2011


Angled Whites to Blue Grey 1995 is a large painting that consists of two abutting canvases, each of which has been horizontally and vertically divided to create a series of interlocking rectangular shapes in a variety of hues, from white to light grey to light blue. The individual fields of colour on the surface appear to offset each other by means of their spatial order. The painting contains variations in form and in texture, with areas of pigment that have been layered, removed and reworked, drawing attention to a painterly richness which can only be clearly appreciated at close quarters.

From early on, the main subject of Green’s paintings was the pictorial plane as an area of delimitation: as a factual canvas but also as a grid of small parts, as demonstrated in One to Four 1982 (Tate T03443). The relationship between the overall composition and its individual parts played a decisive role in Green’s earlier work, as well as in works from the 1990s such as Angled Whites to Blue Grey and Broken Blue Angle 1992 (Tate T13576). During the 1990s, however, his work moved towards an investigation of the canvas surface, exploring a more fluid sense of space in which to structure his paintings. To this end, he reduced his use of colour to monotones and increased the scale of his canvases. By using translucent whites with progressive scales towards opacity, he was able to explore varying formal structures. Writing about his work from this period, Green said: ‘The physical nature of paint and canvas as material is central to the activity. The wide ranging choices on offer, from the gentlest sating to the solid mass can invariably clarify intentions, enhancing legibility. Colour is necessary but no longer dominates; it no longer determines form as in earlier works, playing a subversive role in the overall scheme.’ (Quoted in Annely Juda Fine Art 2008, p.7.)

Green always approached his materials with great precision. Thinking of his pigments primarily as substance, and then as a colour, he drew attention to the practice of painting, such as the application and layering of colour and its material composition. Since the 1960s and 1970s, when minimal and abstract geometric painters would favour the use of flat colours as opposed to gradations in tone or texture, Green ground his own pigments and created tools for marking and scraping his painted surfaces. ‘I prefer to use real pigments,’ he said, ‘all the metal oxides, zinc, the cobalts, the cadmiums, lead and titanium, together with the earth colours, encourage a reality far removed from the simpler colour mixes obtained on electronic screens.’ (Quoted in Annely Juda Fine Art 2008, p.7.)

Further reading
Alan Green: Selected Works from 1991 to 2003, exhibition catalogue, Annely Juda Fine Art, London 2008.
Alan Green: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, exhibition catalogue, Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden 2010.

Carmen Juliá
May 2011

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