Slippery and gooey, the waves of textured oil in Alexis Harding’s abstract paintings seem dangerously close to dripping off the canvas. The works feel frozen in time, stuck in a moment of lava-like oozing. It’s as if they’re on the verge of collapse. In fact, in ‘Passing Through’ – a single orange globe clearing a path through a field of bumpy black – the paint has dripped off the picture on to the gallery floor.
The show features paintings in varying stages of completion. The idea that these blobs of goo and rippling rivers of bright paint have yet to finish their journeys across the canvas gives an air of tension to the show. There’s a story being told through pure abstraction, with Harding battling to contain his compositional elements.
Too literal to allow you to get lost in their surfaces, three ‘Exit’ paintings – all with the word ‘exit’ flowing and crumbling down the surfaces – have less impact than the larger, abstract works on show. It’s the taller, more vibrant paintings that impress the most. Their shuddering fields of colour are bold and confident artistic moves. If this is how good Harding’s paintings are when they’re in progress, we’ve got a lot to look forward to when they’re finally done – if they ever really are.