Biggs & Collings Artwork

Commanded, oil on canvas, 80 x 80 inches

I used to enjoy reading the British art critic Matthew Collings in Modern Painters art mag. Each issue featured his "diary" in which he waxed droll and conversational about happenings in contemporary art, mostly in UK, but also in the US. I would be reading him and thinking that he wasn't saying anything until suddenly I'd look up and realize he just said a lot. His writing is incisive in a sneaky way.

Anyway, he now produces artworks with his life partner, Emma Biggs, known as a highly accomplished artist of abstract mosaics. For their oils, Collings handles most of the painting and Biggs takes the lead on composition, though I'm sure there is back and forth. The work above is pretty spectacular. And big. I'd love to see it in person. This is the image Collings and Biggs use on the homepage of their website, so they must think it represents them well. It's complex and elegant all at once. The color scheme is subtly diverse and wonderfully harmonic. As for composition, well, my eye flits all over the image -- it's active. That's good. Patterns rise up and recede. ("Faces come out of the rain.") The individual cells have all sorts of texture.

Friend of Art & Argument Judith Trepp told be that for an abstract work to transcend the merely decorative it has to posses a combination of intellect, emotion, and breath, or spirit. I haven't seen this in person, but my hunch is it hits all three points when viewed close up. Suffice it to say right now that I like it plenty.



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