Visual artists are concerned with communicating, showing rather then telling us, something about the world we inhabit. Many artists attempt to replicate the visual sensation while others work back from that, going beneath or beyond what the eye sees, to present a conceptual or factual subtext. Colcutt is one of the latter, his built up compositions offer layers of meaning that can be found within the mind as much as the image.
The artist says he is dealing with industrial and environmental concerns and confesses the work is not intended to be beautiful. He collages strips of packing crates, burlap, cardboard, built up medium, pitch black paint, sand, and stencilled words and numbers and succeeds in making potent comments on these issues. This use of text and texture produces exhibits that may not be 'pretty' but are decidedly attractive, inviting and engaging. They attract the viewer from a distance, invite close examination of the surface and engage the mind.
One response to the use of discarded material and faded lettering is that something of value has been packed in a crate that has travelled, been hauled through dirty warehouses, hoisted from wet wharfs, lost and just now found. Remnants of stencilled instructions tell us where these crates have been; in some 'restricted area' where 'no unauthorized personal' are allowed and the public is advised to 'keep out' to avoid 'danger' from 'toxic waste'. Yet for all the warnings and use of non art material, amid all this heavy handed treatment of the surface, we find gentle hues of pale terra cotta, warm cream, subtle blue, that softens the brutality that could have overtaken the work if it were produced by a less capable artist.
The exhibits fascinate when you decide not to look for a narrative and just engage with the object. When we no longer see the stencilled numbers and letters as having meaning and begin to read the wood, sand and impasto paint as having a sense of history, then we can better appreciate what's happening on the surface of these works. One can return to the same exhibit a number of times and be certain of finding something that went unnoticed on a previous viewing. The artist has communicated a great deal about our world in these exhibits. They hold an excitement not unlike, one supposes, that of an archaeological find.
Read Another Art Seen Home