The paintings of Andrew Blythe can be looked when standing back, but usually they ask to be read, more like a book. They require a viewer to move closer and take a little more time.
They can be read sometimes in a linear way; when meandering naughts and crosses lead the eye on a trail that mixes purpose with intuition. (A business man marching to work is continually waylaid as each step becomes a new choice.)
And they can be read in a non-linear way, when his painterly layering technique, like layering one sheet of chicken wire on top of another, requires us to decipher which brush strokes went down first. To engage with his work in this way again demands a closer look and a little more time.
Andrew’s work often plays with, or rather it studies, the balance of purpose and chance, or control and accident. Often the chance/purpose balance is simply contained in the nature of paint, and against this Andrew tests his ability with a brush. For example, he might test the way the paint dribbles off an overloaded brush, but not so much that it runs off everywhere, but just enough so that it can be repeated to make a pattern. Or the way a brushed line of acrylic paint can run back over itself, as it drys, to create a maze-like palimpsest through which we can see glimpses of the original surface. Like a birds-eye-view of the most intense part of the Auckland motorway fly-over system. (Andrew is very good with a brush.)
Andrew has written about cities, and their unstoppable momentum. Perhaps it is the city, its energy and its process of layering, overlapping and cancelling out that finds expression in his work. Although I am not suggesting that the motif of the negative, the ‘X’, means his work sends out nihilistic messages.
From taking some time in my reading of the work, what I see, is an artist taking delight in discovery and finding the pure pleasures of paint.