Critics Choice London 2010

Curated by Andrew Lambirth

Glancing through the pages of past catalogues dedicated to the work of Luke Elwes, a strong sense of continuity emerges. Elwes paints the concept of travel: he is a pilgrim in search of identity – his own as much as the spirit of the place through which he journeys. His paintings have a particularity which is emotionally sensitive yet formally tough, as he focuses on the traces left by mankind in his passage through time and the world. Elwes puts us in perspective. He has travelled widely, and one of his most consistently inspiring journeys has been to the Himalayas, where he was much struck by the earth and mineral colours splashed on walls. In his new paintings he revisits Nepal through the prism of more recent experiences in the backwaters of Essex, and the reflections of foliage and sky. ‘Passage’ proposes a spatial arrangement of black pillars to articulate the warm pinks and blues of its aetherial context.  ‘Portal’ explores the threshold between inside and outside, a vista of hallucinatory blue bringing the outside firmly into the picture. In ‘Refuge’ the dark doorway and window seem to offer a sanctuary from the piercing light. Vague columns of intermittent colour are embedded in the swirling patterns of Elwes’ canvases.  Everything is reduced to dust eventually by the elements, but in the meantime we may enjoy the trace of their being.