Room 1 installed paintings, June 2019
Room 1, In Four oil on linen, 2018
Room 2 installed paintings, June 2019
The painterly language that informs Sharon Hall’s works is rooted in the experience and knowledge of how light works in painting. Hall went to paint in Italy in 1991 when she was awarded a Rome Scholarship and it is possible that both her intense feeling for place and the colour language of her mature style come, at least partly, from her experience of Italy and Italian painting. It is not so much the 'correct' chiaroscuro of the high Renaissance that interests her as the poetic-symbolic colour of the masters of the quattrocento, such as Fra Filippo Lippi, and also of the Mannerist, Jacopo Pontormo, that guides her in her quest for that ineffable sense of place that painting can evoke.
The geometrical scaffolding of the paintings is precisely as complex as it needs to be for the colour to do its work. In his essay ‘On Colour’ from The Salon of 1846 the poet Charles Baudelaire writes: “As the sunlight changes, tones change in value but, always respecting their sympathies and natural antipathies, continue to live in harmony through reciprocal connections.” These words could serve to describe Hall's colour modulations. Tone-colour values are deployed in asymmetrical groups: dark, very dark, light, and very light, together with multiple nuances of warm and cool, strong and weak, that form a contrapuntal relationship with the symmetrical geometry. The geometry is the framework that enables this exchange system to function effectively.
The photograph on the front cover of the catalogue for Hall's solo exhibition entitled Colour in Place in the Palazzo del Podestà, Pescia, Italy in 2013 shows two very small paintings on an empty expanse of wall. Scale is given by the inclusion of a stack of larger paintings face to the wall. It is due to their extreme clarity and economy that these small paintings have a presence out of proportion to their size. To make a very small painting seem large is always felt as a triumph by a painter. Not only is this colour in space – it creates a space.
© David Saunders, Mercus, France, March 2019