Review: Cityscape to Landscape: Clare Flinn at Editions Ltd

Clare Flinn at Editions Ltd
Clare Flinn at Editions Ltd

Cityscape to Landscape: Clare Flinn
at Editions Ltd. Friday 29 January – Saturday 27 February 2016

Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith. Photographs by Patrick Kirk-Smith and artinliverpool.

Cityscape to Landscape, the current exhibition at Editions, is one of those shows you see once in a while that makes you have to turn back around and think twice. On entering the space, it’s a series of paintings that use bold colours, harsh lines and confident strokes of a palette knife. On the face of it there’s nothing new here. But stop letting yourself be that quick to judge. This exhibition uses these techniques, almost always applied to landscape, and forces them on our city.

I’ve seen this done before, but never particularly successfully. What Flinn does, is take her medium, her method – possibly madness – and pensively apply them to buildings, almost creating a level of portraiture in the images. Each building has a considered colour palette, and an incredibly thought through energy, relative to the subject of each painting.

The show includes images of buildings across the world but its main focus is local, I suppose looking to inspire familiarity in visitors to Editions Ltd. And I think anyone visiting the gallery will very much appreciate that decision. The paintings don’t just depict a place, they describe it. They encapsulate their localities, their age, their power – or lack of – and that’s very hard to come by in landscape work, which this formally is.

If you’re looking for landscapes, this really isn’t the show for you, this is a series of portraits posing as landscape. They have personalities as paintings, and use light and shade very intuitively to explain the personalities of their subjects.

Some of Clare Flinn’s work not on display here even has a quality that takes these local spaces and colours them in such an otherworldly manner that they could be scenes from anywhere. It’s this brilliant skill she has developed to represent cities and landscapes through emotions, and interaction, rather than images which are photorealistic. But it’s not what you would ever call expressionist. There is definitely a realism, but it’s in the mood; an odd kind of psychological document of a space at one given time.

This is a fantastic choice for Editions to open 2016 with. Taking an artist who has always had a place there and giving them the exhibition they deserve. If it was crucial to choose an audience for this, I suppose it is an audience who really stops and looks; at art; at their city; at the sky. Anyone who really does take their time to look properly should take a lot from this exhibition, from its colours, and energy, but mainly from how it manages to convey the emotion of a space in a way that most portraiture fails to.