Ian Norris – Rooms with a View
Preview – Friday 17th November 2017
About a year ago I was reading a book entitled ‘Rooms with a View’ and the two images illustrated above, both painted by Henri Matisse from the same 5th floor window of his Paris studio, somehow seemed to encapsulate the transitional, and at times traumatic, development I was undergoing. Painted twelve years apart, they represent Matisse’s ascent from the representational into abstraction. The reading of this book, and the discovery of these paintings, coincided with my increased interest in improvised jazz. I was listening to an interview with the esteemed pianist Bill Evans and something he said hit me like a bullet:
“Intuition has to lead knowledge, it can’t be out there on its own. If it’s on its own you’re going to flounder. Understanding the problem is 90% of solving it, and that problem is clarity and basic structure.”
It was an epiphonal moment for me that acted as a conduit through which I could make sense of the barriers I was trying to break down, as I continued on my aesthetic journey. It had begun earlier this year with my ‘Northern Quarter’ urban landscape series, but I now felt a sense of relief and a freedom to explore my calling into this abstract domain.
To this end I took occupation of two rooms in a central Manchester hotel, one room with views north and the other looking south. They were numbers 1109 and 1105 respectively, and accordingly form part of the title of each work. I worked day and night and collated colour sketches and rapid drawings that encapsulated all the natural and man-made light changes from dawn to dusk and through the night. It was an uplifting experience. These I took back to the studio, where I worked vigorously on larger drawings and the assertion and understanding, or as Bill Evans had called it “the knowledge”, of basic structure.
All of the paintings in this exhibition are the result of this process. Starting with the creation of a clear initial structure, which is then destroyed, the framework is then reintroduced with reference to the drawings. This cycle of construction and destruction is then reworked over and over until there is a reduction in the painting to the essence and purity of the moment it captures and the emotional response it engenders within me. I have also produced a series of more representational drawings to accompany the works, to afford the viewer access to, and “knowledge” of the journey I have undertaken.
Each finished painting has a faint anchor of representational reference. These markers of recognition are as much a visual statement about my visceral state as they are about guidance for the understanding of the images. I am very proud of this body of work.
Ian Norris. November 2017