One of Sandy Mallet’s primary inspirations when starting his work in 2004 was the idea of the most rudimentary act that an artist can make: the loading of a brush with colour and stabbing it onto a canvas. The massing of these simple squares of colour – these fundamental gestures – became the Square Dancing series, a group of paintings that evolved over two years, interrogating ideas of form and colour.
The squares of colour have become a leitmotif in the artist’s work throughout various projects in the intervening years, prompting us to take into account the presence of the artist, and the fundamental nature of mark-making. With the White Paintings series, the squares became a suggested language, and were given new open spaces to work in, as well as another contrasting language to work with. At this time the artist was also exploring how to present music on canvas, transposing musical scores by using similar squares of paint. Later on, in the Map Paintings, squares of paint appear in other ways – as smaller, layered marks, that seem to indicate houses or farms, or as larger near-squares or ovals, that might be fields or contour areas.
The Map Paintings were fully developed in West Dorset, after the artist moved to a farmhouse there in a deep valley, surrounded by White Park cattle. The works were initially a response to extensive walks around Eggardon Hill, recording field systems, and later included Dorset townscapes. Most recently, with the artist now back in London, a new series of Coast Paintings has returned to the map paintings theme, as a response to lockdown, recalling acutely memorable places on the west coast of Scotland.
Sandy Mallet was born in 1961 in Caithness, Scotland, and has developed a career as a curator, gallery director, writer and artist for 25 years. His writing has included works on Modern British and Contemporary artists as well as arts journalism. He lives in West London.
All the works shown here are acrylic on canvas.