The grand series of paintings titled Voice of Mimesis seems increasingly to have been a moment in Geoff Thornley’s practice, where the expressed structural foundations receded and gave way to a more poetic and fundamental expression.
The manner in which form opens and closes around gesture, and the role that tone has in establishing the depth and penetrability of the surface, is vital. The architectonics of the space are less measured and increasingly a function of perception and intuition. Thus since Mimesis, form and structure emerge through process rather than imposition.
In his newest paintings called Anterior we feel the presence of Mimesis in their submerged metrical structure, but what is apparent is the intensity of the colour and the manner in which it has been floated, so as to sit nearer the surface, even breaching it in a way that is rare in his work. There is a sensuous modulation in the light across the plane – colour and drama following in its path.
And like Mimesis, almost the entire field of the painting is used, the horizontal brushstrokes terminating within a carefully measured edge. There is not a structural caveat or intervention that breaks the cadence. It’s not that Thornley’s repeated and wilful breaking of the illusion has been done away with, nor that any ‘resemblance’ to nature needs to be thwarted, it is simply that these paintings are what they are. Given this achievement Geoff inevitably resists analogy, let alone a seasonal one, I can’t help but sense the warmth of these works and the fact that seen against the cool hibernation, the shallow breathing and slow pulse that is apparent in much of his painting, these new works deliver a spring-like possibility.
Rounding out an extraordinary few years, Thornley’s major quintet Voice of Mimesis was acquired for the AGNSW permanent collection in 2016 by the FONZA Foundation.