Bruce Haines Mayfair opens its West End gallery with a new body of work by the British artist Tim Braden. Entitled Ultramarine, the exhibition is comprised of several large and mediumscale still lifes executed in acrylic and oil, presented alongside a hand-knotted abstract wool rug laid on the floor in the centre of the gallery.
At first sight, the assembled works seem unconnected, a random mise-en-scène – a portrait of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx; a stack of artist monographs piled one on top of another; an interior of a villa, a blush red chaise longue. Yet what the viewer is witnessing, in fact, is a snapshot of Braden’s artistic practice, what he describes as ‘weaving through connections between seemingly disparate ideas’, a process by which he can absorb and explore through painting anything from art history to interior design, to gardening and architecture.
In its scope, Ultramarine (2015), the largest canvas in the exhibition, describes the breadth of his influences. It shows a patchwork of book covers, among them the eponymous Ultramarine, a novel by American writer Malcolm Lowry and its cover by Raoul Dufy. Braden has said that the books he paints are significant to his work, and included here are a children’s story book, works on design and architecture, as well as artists’ monographs. The viewer is left to consider why these have been selected, and what influence they might have on the painting depicting them.
The rug, Mis Amigas Las Flores (2015), shows Braden’s playful combination of reference and material, as well as his ongoing interest in deconstructing the abstract/figuration paradigm. For the rug is not a self-contained work, but a detail of one of his paintings, pulling together his love of decorative arts, craft and design, decoration and function.