“I’m interested in the fundamentals of painting — the process of it all, the countless ways in which paint as a material can be used, all the ways that a mark can be made,” says Abi Box. In this exhibition, the British artist, who has been based in Bermuda for five years, explores the possibilities of monotype printing, in which a unique print is pulled by hand from paint applied directly onto a Plexiglass plate.
Box likens the effect of painting on Plexiglass to painting on canvas. “It is a flexible, forgiving way of creating a picture. No mark is fixed, and the paint can be pushed and moved around,” she says. “It allows me to indulge in the grittiness and unpredictability of paint.” Box works in watercolour, which pools and fragments on the surface, creating a sense of abstraction in the printed image. Painting, for her, is a means of exploration. “It is important to me when painting not to copy from observation, but to react.”
Inspired by the glare of sunlight bouncing off the water and Bermuda’s white roofs, the works in this series capture the impression left by the blinding midday sun — the way that it bleaches the colours around it or frames a cluster of palm trees. “When you’re on the pink sand it’s so overwhelmingly drenched in brightness, you can barely see colour because of it. Everything’s bleached,” she says. “In other pieces, I focused on the chaotic wrangle of foliage at the water’s edge, which advocates for fluidity between shapes and crowded compositions full of pattern and ambiguity.”
Abi Box first experimented with monotype printing on an artist residency in the Peruvian rainforest in 2016. What she didn’t realise at the time is that the prints need to be made within the first few days of the plates being painted. As a result, she was left with a series of painted glass plates which, although too dry to print from, were beautiful objects in and of themselves. Intrigued, she coated them in resin and turned them into a series of stained-glass panels. These small, intimate pieces caught the attention of a collector, who then commissioned her to make a scaled-up version — a light box installation, now on permanent display at Simmons Contemporary in London.
While pregnant with her first child, Box returned to the monotype medium as a way of avoiding the paint fumes of her usual work on canvas. Later, restricted to short windows of time in which to paint with a newborn, the process of making prints suited these short bursts. This series was completed amidst the identical days of new motherhood and with the impending arrival of her second child.
Using bold, gestural brushstrokes, the works capture the view of Ely’s Harbour from Box’s Somerset studio, along with nearby banana groves and small coves that she has discovered along the island’s shoreline. The works veer between sparsity and density, which creates a woven, textural result infused with the very essence of Bermuda.
Identical Days by Abi Box is on display in the BNG Project Space through to May.
Meet the Artist
We are hosting an Artist’s Reception for Abi Box on Thursday, February 16th 5pm – 6.30pm exclusively for BNG members. Join us for a drink and explore the gallery after it has closed to the public. This is an exciting opportunity to meet the artist and learn more about her unique approach.
Invitations have already been sent out directly to members. If you have not received an invitation, your membership may have lapsed. Please note that this is renewal season and that 2022/23 memberships expire on March 31.
Take out or renew your membership today to be added to the guestlist for the event. All memberships will be valid through to March 2024.
Click here to become a member.