"When the avant-garde artists of the early twentieth century, such as the Constructivists in Russia or the De Stijl painters of the Netherlands, incorporated geometry into their work, it symbolised a belief that human rationality could pave the way to a brighter future, a social utopia for all. Unsurprisingly, given the turmoil of the Second World War, in which technological advances enabled the conflict to be fought on a wider and more devastating scale than previously imaginable, many began viewing the claim that rationalism and science equals progress with far greater scepticism. What is more, when a new generation examined the paintings and sculpture of their pre-war forbears they noticed that, although these works endeavoured to avoid the arbitrary and the accidental at all costs, in practice they were often imbued with personal and emotional concerns, with the hand of the artist stubbornly revealing its presence again and again" (Pryle Behrman)
Robert Currie and Jaakko Mattila play with the dichotomies that result from merging the personal with the scientific, the mechanical with the handmade. Water colour has notoriously ephemeral qualities. Always respectfully handled by artists wanting to exploit its ability to behave in particular ways, it is, quite simply, a medium that will achieve much for an artist that knows how to leave it to its own devices and claim the 'happy accidents'. Jaakko Mattila refuses to settle for that. He experiments with semi-mechanical processes and repetitive patterns and lines, to inject more rigour and control into the process of painting with this medium. By narrowing down opportunities for the paint to behave in a 'freelance' manner, the resulting work fidgets intriguingly between an aesthetic defined by process and one defined by chance.
Robert Currie creates intricate worlds from a range of unusual materials such as nylon and cassette tape using exacting techniques that are both painstakingly precise and intrinsically random. He fuses a mathematical precision with a love of the uncontrollable to create intricate visions of controlled chaos. His work shows a keen awareness of the opposing hypotheses of chaos theory - the notion that order will inevitably descend into disorder - and complexity theory, which argues that order will always emerge in any sufficiently complex system.
Robert Currie lives and works in London. Jaakko Mattila currently lives and works in Finland.
(Many thanks to Pryle Behrman for his contributions on the work of Robert Currie)
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