Brian Neish is fascinated by painted surfaces, particularly surfaces having to endure the extremes of sunlight, wind, frost and rain. He calls the appearance of these debilitating effects ‘Noble Decay’ to suggest a sense of them displaying increasingly unique, almost heroic visual qualities over extended periods of time.
Initial ideas usually develop out of the close study of ageing architectural features, such as walls, shutters, doors, signs and panels. His work rarely refers directly to original sources, rather it extracts, then processes compositional ideas gleaned from them, and attempts to express something of their collective and essential nature. Recent locations have included rural settings in Arizona and California.
Back in the studio, the working process will depend upon the nature of the decaying surface he wants to explore. It might involve incorporating a number of layers of oil colour impasto to build up textural effects, or building up a sequence of layers in acrylic before rubbing down the surface to reveal marks and textures hidden underneath. Regardless, his interest is always in expressing something of the actual properties inherent to the paint as a material in its own right. This process is augmented by selecting contrasting or harmonious colour values as each layer builds up one upon another. In a sense, this mimics the way ‘real’ architectural objects are repeatedly painted over many years but with time speeded up, or compressed, according to how we might interpret this. Inevitably, in the moment of looking at paintings such as these, their subject evolves from merely the substance of the paint and starts to provoke ideas about Time – past, present and future.