Luke Elwes exhibition review 2014

Luke Elwes

Adam Gallery, 67 Mortimer Street, W1 | John Street, Bath, until 28 March | 29 March until 16 April 2014

By way of spiritual respite, I would like to mention an exhibition of the latest paintings on paper by Luke Elwes (born 1961). These are being shown in the Adam Gallery’s new London premises, whereupon they will transfer to the gallery’s Bath headquarters. Over recent years, Elwes has been developing a language of near-abstract touches of floating colour in shifting patterns, shattered and elliptical, like confetti on a cobbled pavement that is also a river. (If you’re looking for comparisons, the nearest I can come is to the American painter associated with the Abstract Expressionists, Mark Tobey.)

This flexible and evocative language has reached a new peak in a series of paintings made in Vermont during a month’s residency last year, exploring the wild landscape of the Green Mountains and the Gihon River that flows through it. The style and technique (a mixed-media secret closely guarded from his many would-be followers) is admirably suited to depicting the reflective and troubled surface of moving water, and Elwes puts all his skills to good effect in this magnificent new series. A source of contemplation in turbulent times: recommended.

Andrew Lambirth  29 March 2014

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 29 March 2014