Roar is a new series of vivid seascapes from Neil Frazer and show once again how sensory experience can be expressed on a canvas. It is the feeling of immersion in a confrontational landscape and in particular the physical experience of this immersion that Frazer captures so well with his signature impasto textures. The raw materiality of rocky strata and spume-filled waves is mirrored by the artist’s bold, gestural paint application. Acrylic paint projects from the flat surface of the canvas, creating shadowed overhangs and swirling maelstroms.
The brusque, chopped movements that the painter has used in High Diver mimic the appearance and the choppy energy of the wind-tossed water, which is further enhanced by the streaked hues of blue and green. Whereas the balance of works in this series position the viewer either at, or just above sea-level, High Diver presents a more acute viewing angle, suggestive of a bird’s-eye or clifftop perspective. Accentuated by the dark shadowing at the base of the outcrop, the work evokes a precarious feeling of vertigo.
Blue Cave elicits a similar sense of insecurity; seen from a swimmer’s point of view, the dense rock arch looms up from the left foreground to fill most of the picture plane and the sweeps of darkened water seem to sweep ever closer to the cliff face. It is only the flat void of the sky that offers respite from the turbulence of the painted suroundings. Frazer utilises these pure white voids to accentuate the abstract nature of the painted environment, but they also serve as visual foils to the energy and physicality of the impasto surfaces. (1)
Rather than portraying exact locations, Frazer’s works capture a universal sense of place. The lack of geographic specificity means that the paintings sit outside defined historical narratives and their scope also extends beyond the human experience. The paintings provide a space for contemplation of geological and environmental timeframes, within which humankind is less than a blink of the eye. This offers an alternate sense of immersive experience, and one that is increasingly significant in a world where the natural environment is changing more quickly than at any other time in history.
Drawn to rugged environments, Neil Frazer uses all of his senses to inform his practice and regularly swims, climbs, and walks to gather the physical experiences that he then translates into his paintings (2). As a viewer we may also take part in these somatic encounters and remember our own voyaging through the natural world.