Abstract Artist: Geoff Oke
Cycles in nature; renewal and decay, and a fascination with texture have become themes in my recent work. As a painting develops I start to see similarities in the textures and patterns of stone, moss, lichen and scarred tree bark in the painted layers, the built up surfaces that I obsessively rework. I use many glazes and washes to create a painting and scrape back the paint repeatedly. In this way marks and colour build up in density and richness. The nature of working like this recollects the grittiness of the Welsh landscape. I start with a few marks, usually derived from observation of the landscape. Drawings of the gnarled roots of a tree have provided a starting point recently. This initial composition can change many times; passages of paint, interesting areas of texture or vague forms emerging, become catalysts to take the painting in a particular direction. I allow the painting to take it’s own course; sometimes this involves obliterating what has gone before. This process of change brings to mind decay and impermanence in nature. Motifs of rivers and flowing undercurrents sometimes occur as I’m painting. Though ideally, the forms in my work should have many interpretations. It’s more like an ebb and flow in nature. I am interested in the idea of tides affecting the land as well as the sea and in the effect of the tides on the body. When I’m working I am often trying to convey an emotion when I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s a the emotion of a fleeting memory. It can feel like I’m grasping at something that is transitory. The anger and frustration of trying to do such a futile thing can lead to a painting’s success; these emotions are conveyed in the finished painting.
Taking inspiration from the Welsh landscape, Geoff Oke paintings strive to capture the cycle of nature in complex layers of etherial texture. A master of mark making, glazing and the structure of paint Oke evokes fleeting memories of the wildness of nature and the transitory elements that make up the world around us. Living and working in Aberystwyth, Geoff describes how, “drawings of the gnarled roots of a tree have provided a starting point recently. This initial composition can change many times; passages of paint, interesting areas of texture or vague forms emerging, become catalysts to take the painting in a particular direction.”