Mark Surridge is a painter who to some extent works in a very English tradition, landscape, which is the base on which he says he is “grappling with abstract relationships between shapes, colours and textures on the picture plane.” At first glance his work looks abstract and the results have their own very personal syntax, punctuation and orchestration. They become almost performances of landscape rather than a celebratory record.
In notes he made two years ago, he refers to train journeys from home in Cornwall to London and back, and he says how many of his paintings have been affected by memories of views seen from the train and his awareness of the ‘frame’ of the windows. Of all modes of transport, the train can lull the passenger into a state that might be called translucence of mind. As the train picks up speed, the vistas become fleeting and objects close by seem to fly, just as the paint appears to be flying in some of Surridge’s pictures. The titles of individual works in the show bear this out – Freedom Flicker, Field Change, Physical Drift, Land Wind.
Further into his notes, he says he starts with landscape. “I enter into it with a sketch book, I draw, take notes. I look for contrasts, strong shapes, sometimes making written notes” His walks in the Cornish countryside are part of his daily routine.
Surridge works to produce paintings as a series, and he says that a residue of information and sensations keeps trying to come through from a previous series. There is certainly continuity in his work but, underlying all, development, exploration and risk are evident.
Surridge’s paint is arresting. Broad one-stroke brush marks make one think- of Ivon Hitchens who also caught aspects of landscape on the wing! Random spatters of thick pigment and scratchings add to an overall orchestration. The viewer might also sense a manifestation of speed, rushes of air. This is not to suggest that the paintings have been done quickly. They are hard-wrought pieces suggesting a sensibility as sensitive as litmus paper to the moods of his chosen terrain.
Liam Hanley 2003