Gervaise Netherway’s subtly evocative paintings are at once straightforward and cryptic. They brim with abstract formalities and semiotics that switch between recognition and obscurity. Cacophonies of shapes, marks, and linear detailing invoke spatial and figural illusions; yet remain elusive of any descriptive narrative. For Netherway, painting is used as a source in lieu of becoming or striving to act as a representational image.
The works that feature in Infinite Gesture are concerned with designing a space for intersections between being and knowing to unfold – and both the liberation and suspense between knowing what comes next and not knowing – which for Netherway always starts in a moment of estrangement. His work does not arrive from lengthy gestation periods and seldom adhere to pre-existing plans. In what he refers to as ‘Un-manifest’ images, the idea of always starting at a ‘nowhere’ or ‘from scratch’ when beginning a new painting is integral to his greater practice – yet he is also crucially not concerned with arriving at a ‘somewhere else’ or an ‘actuality’. Instead, Netherway is motivated by the processes that occur while painting and the very idea of ‘process’ as a trajectory that harnesses uncertain outcomes and negotiates a state of being that does not adhere to versed regimes or schematic ideals.
While the paintings in Infinite Gesture act as departure points away from a coherent sum of their parts and remain as non-things or ‘un-manifest’ images substituted by an innate potential, they still collectively highlight the idiosyncratic, fortuitous and fluidity of Netherway’s specific agency and motivation for abstract painting. Parallels emerge between the pieces by way of colour schemes and accidental gradients; monochromatic areas join in certain similar ways, and the suite of paintings share a similar size and scale to one another. Characteristically speaking, the paintings that populate Infinite Gesture could be interpreted as scrolls denoting some kind of ancient or alien-like language indecipherable to the contemporary eye, or a transference of knowledge and data; Matrix’s for later forensic use – a semiotic real that resonates in another time and place far advanced from the present. His unorthodox approach to the pictorial surface could be said to tease out both the problematic of and provocation for abstract painting; getting beyond one kind of reality and enabling the entrance of other forms of being and knowing entirely – perhaps resisting emotional responses all together – remaining far from ‘expressive’ gestures of any known kind.