Ikon presents the fIrst major survey of work by British artists Fionnuala Boyd and Les Evans, comprising painting and photography drawn from their 40 year career. This exhibition tracks their artistic practice from painted scenes of everyday urban and suburban life in 1970s Britain to penetrating photographic landscapes of the American Southwest.
In the first decade of their partnership, Boyd & Evans made paintings from photographs in their own archive, spraying acrylic paint through stencils to create an even, thinly painted surface. Assembling disparate elements from different photographs allowed them to create new, mysterious compositions. Their paintings, while highly realistic, have a scale, composition and use of perspective that edges closely to surrealism; in these dreamlike pictures the air feels thin and time suspended.
Vision itself has been a longstanding concern for Boyd & Evans, with many works suggesting the conditions of seeing or being seen. Views 1 and 2 (1973) show in the first canvas a girl with her back to the viewer, looking out toward a group of people and some cars parked incongruously in the distance. In the second painting she turns, as in a photographic snapshot, and smiles directly at the viewer.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Boyd & Evans abandoned the spray gun in favour of brushes, but continued to be inspired by photographic imagery, with an emphasis on landscape. In a number of works lone figures are set within sweeping, panoramic vistas traversed by railroad tracks and asphalt roads, ubiquitous traces of human industry and travel. Increasingly Boyd & Evans have also shown an interest in pure landscape, devoid of human presence, a concern which developed while they were in Indonesia and the American Southwest.
Photography has played a central role throughout the career of Boyd & Evans, used by them to explore many of the same concerns with the nature of viewing, perspective and narrative as exemplified by their paintings. Indeed as technology has developed to allow an easier manipulation of photographs, Boyd & Evans’ photography has become more painterly. Draining colour from all but a central element of their compositions, their works heighten the strange luminosity in pools of water, lone buildings or twisted cans rusting in the desert. Throughout their collaboration, these artists have traversed the already porous boundary between realism and illusionism.
A full colour catalogue accompanies the exhibition priced £18. Boyd & Evans have also made a limited edition print, Motel Six, priced £150.
Boyd & Evans’ exhibition Views is presented as part of the London 2012 Festival.