The Edge and Beyond
Marc Vaux first rose to international recognition in the 1960s when his work was shown in the seminal Situation exhibition – alongside Robyn Denny, William Turnbull and Bernard Cohen, amongst others. His work has been defined as both minimalist and constructivist, but it is his abiding interest in colour and light that defines his practice, the wall-constructions and related works included in the selection.
Vaux first began making wall constructions in 1977 and several early pieces are represented in this exhibition. Initially they featured flat, monochromatic colour painted in acrylic but quickly graduated to the adoption of more subversive and commercial materials; cellulose spray paints more commonly used in car manufacture applied to MDF or anodised aluminium.
However, beyond the industrial materiality and hard-surface geometry of the wall-constructions, it is the quality of light and colour, which animates these works and lift them into something altogether more transcendental. The shifting tones of light on colour and our physical relationship to them, in the act of viewing, are used to create a pure visual experience.
‘Colour is known to have a direct effect upon the central nervous system/human sensibility, arguably the most effective modifiers of human response, over sound and touch ... it can be a pure visual experience equivalent to any other (experience). I see no reason why colour can't equate with melody and be as memorable.’
Marc Vaux: Wiedel-Kaufmann, Ben (2011). Marc Vaux, New Paintings: Triptychs and Ovals.
Over time, the structures evolved to become more complex and increase the reflective and framing functions sought by Vaux, in succession featuring trapezoid shapes, cuboids, free-standing columns and ‘cut-outs’. Raised aluminium frames bolted to polished boards were employed to emphasise the white inner void at their centre – which in turn reflect narrow strips of coloured beading with which they are enclosed.
The most recent works, including some made earlier this year, comprise a series of balanced and seemingly weightless ovoids, touched with strips of colour and tilting in space as they ‘float’ before us.