Elizabeth Dickinson, Freelance Curator
From its inception, abstract art has continued to divide opinion. Even the now iconic expressions of colour, light, form and movement by modern masters such as; Kandinsky, Delauney, Miro, Rothko and Pollock continue to create important debate about what is considered art and what role art should play within contemporary society.
The move towards the abstract within contemporary art marked an important shift. Early 20th century Europe was a place of uncertainty and fear; it was at the peak of industrialisation, secularity (and all the question that came with it) was more prevalent than ever and, most importantly, Europe had found itself within the midst of two catastrophic world wars. Suddenly, within societies that were broken and traumatised, the representation of past traditions no longer seemed relevant. And so abraction was born. It’s refusal to give accuratem representations of visual reality and its open invitation to subjectivity and imagination helped redefine a world who no longer knew how to define itself.
Today, Errol Sweetland offers something equally as important through his paintings. Contemporary western society has again found itself in a time of unsettling uncertainty (conflicting geopolitical ideologies, acts of mass violence, national distrust in our governments, to name but a few factors) and Sweetland’s concentration on pure colour and process offers viewers stability through its simplicity. In a digital age, we are consistently forced to derive meaning and context from images whereas Sweetland’s paintings refreshingly demand nothing from us. They simply offer a space in which to reflect, meditate, daydream, imagine and make sense of the day to day chaos.