Words, like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within. Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Bolsena studio of Lawrence Carroll is discreet and fundamental. They are work spaces of arcadian simplicity where he can think and make. In a sense they are commensurate with the deceptive humility of the artworks that he constructs.

To confuse this humility with modesty would be wrong. Indeed the reverse is true – despite the understatement and raw material candour of the works, they possess a grandeur and poetry, that whilst rooted in their warm tactility and their confronting fidelity, imbues them with a metaphorical weight and romantic symbolism that is potent and deeply human.

The marriage of this wonderfully idiosyncratic approach to material with a highly specific colour sense and his approach to scale and proportion sets Carroll’s paintings well aside from the polite orthodoxies of most painting.

Whether because of the exaggerated physical depth of his objects, or because of the manner of their installation, the architecture refutes the pictorial in favour of a robust structure that positions the works between painting and sculpture. I sense too that Carroll’s Beuys-like sensitivity to materials and their capacity to absorb the secretions of touch and memory is not easily set aside.  

The structure of the large works with their cavities and windows suggest an interior life that is partially concealed. Some elements insert, like a large slipcase hinting at secluded narratives and secret sites loaded with mystery. There is something risky yet playful, even childlike about these enigmatic, delphian spaces. Like C.S. Lewis the allure of knowing what is obscured, not behind just layers of linen and paint, but on the other side of the wardrobe, is compelling.

In all his work it is drawing that underpins his thinking and his investigations. It is in the intimacy of mark-making that emerges time and again in his works, be they small assemblages or monumental constructions. And as monumental and rough-hewn as Carroll’s works can be they also posesses great delicacy. The balance of the forceful and tenuous, the built and the gently stained, the immovable and the fragile is at the heart of Lawrence Carroll’s poetic conundrums.

One could substitute “painting” for “words” in Tennyson’s quote and it would still hold true. Indeed Carroll’s own flirtation with verse, like his drawing and his painting serves two contradictory urges that only making art can oblige…to let us both reveal and conceal our soul.  

Andrew Jensen.