Spanning a painting practice of more than 40 years, this collection of Ian Scott works provides an intriguing insight into the development of his Lattice series. Inspired by the abstract works of US painters like Jules Olitski and Kenneth Noland, and New Zealand painter Milan Mrkusich, Scott began exploring linear patterns from the mid-1970s. The Lattices were a constant throughout his painting career, and he continued to produce them at the same time as he explored post-modernist themes and popular culture in his representational series.
The earliest works, some of which have never been seen in public, reveal an artist working through visual puzzles on the canvases. Seeing how Scott experiments with colour, scale, and orientation in Lattice No 15 (1977), we can almost imagine his thought processes as he lays grid upon grid to see what possibilities they present and where he can go next.
Three years later, Small Lattice No. 42 (1980) seems at first glance to exhibit the geometric formula that became the signature of the Lattice series: bands of colour that appear to weave in and out of one another through advancing and receding picture planes. This painting reveals a more complex internal structure however. Scott disrupts his own illusion and what seem to be continuous lines are broken: red flows into blue, yellow into brown. In addition to this, the canvas itself is integrated into the painted elements, which further complicates the way we consider where the illusions begin and end.
Lattice No 96 (1982) is immediately recognisable as a quintessential Lattice painting. Its cohesion of form, line, and colour reveal a refined understanding of medium and style that has been honed over time. Its seeming effortlessness belies Scott’s careful placement of colour and his balanced use of pattern scale. The hues (including grey) are all of a similar saturation, allowing the white band to dominate the central diagonal of the painting. In doing so, it sets up a primary visual plane and all the other colour bands move across the canvas - either underneath or above - relative to this imagined surface.
The most recent works in this collection show Scott’s ongoing experimentation with what could be achieved within strict constraints of line and pattern. Lattice No. 210 (2010) and Small Lattice No. 375 (2009) are minimal and restrained; the reduction in size and number of colour bands emphasises the colour field that sits underneath and exposes more explicitly the way in which our eyes are tricked into seeing depth where there is none.
Deconstructing one’s own paintings to their bare bones requires the artist to be truly at home in their practice. This collection of works allows us to track the technical and conceptual journey Ian Scott took to arrive there.