John Crossley

Introduction to 'Into the Light', Bicha Gallery, London, 2011

John Crossley’s affinity for colour has underpinned his continuous practice of painting following in the wake of his early interest in sculpture. Through his use of colour and form, he has evolved an approach that utilises the exquisite sensitivity of our responses to nuances of change, to communicate with us. There is an inevitable emotional dynamic threaded through the work that cannot be obscured.

Working with abstract images created from layers of colour, his paintings deal with the shifting climate of human relating. Here we find both closeness and distance, inclusion and seclusion, vitality and stasis: the subtle shifts of mood that arise in the context of every emotional life. The images invite inquiry rather than occupying a position, welcoming the subjectivity of the viewer as if to elicit a conversation. Colour and form signal to us from their interchange, harmonious yet stirring in their brilliant tones and bold frontiers.

Crossley’s work continues to explore the nature of things through the metaphors of light and spatial relationships capturing a joyful resonance that is best described as an emotional glow.

© Rebecca Bergese

Introduction to 'Inside Out, New Paintings' - John Crossley and Steven Foy, 1999

Painting is made from inside out. I think of painting as possessed by a structure - but a structure born of colour feeling...(Jules Olitski)

What if there was not abstraction but abstractions? Such a simple question cuts right to the very heart of our understanding of abstract painting. It suggests that the modernist endgame was always already predetermined on there being only one outcome; the process of reduction would eventually bring us round to the last painting. This exhibition proposes an alternative approach not based on systematic exclusion but on provisional associate attitude. Painting 'from the inside out" suggests that, rather than a sign of irreducibility, the blank surface is the beginning, already charged (or "possessed" as Olitski put it). It is not a process of turning inward but a move outward, beyond the confines of the medium.

John Crossley and Steven Foy have put their paintings together to demonstrate shared interests and divergences. Spatial intricacy is a common feature of each set of works but where Crossley interweaves organic shapes, Foy almost literally builds his paintings architecturally. The result is an intriguing dialouge which questions the presumptions that have been made about abstraction in art but more importantly about the possibilities of painting now and in the future.

Distanced both from modernist closure and postmodern pastiche, the works to go on show in this exhibition touch on many contemporary concerns. Complexity is one of them, understood as the opening out, or unfolding, onto new vistas. This activity seems guided less by rational thinking than the operation of chance.

Spatiality (rather than flatness) and an interest in psychological effects of voids and densities can also be found. Altogether, these tendencies almost literally turn the paintings inside out. Painting is no longer within itself but beside itself.

© Michael White

Around The London Galleries, The Times, 1997

Any mixed show, whatever the surroundings, can be a bit of a challenge without the benefit of theme or repeat. In this welcome show, the first Cut Gallery Group Exhibition, each individual piece has to fight in order to work which in turn forces the viewer to look, think and find. John Crossley's deceptive paintings on paper which appear still, fixed and clear in their scale and subject, carry an internal life of their own.

© Sacha Craddock

Review refers to the work 'Happy Hour', which is illustrated with the article, 'Less than One, More Than One' and 'Displacements'.

Introduction to Milton Gallery solo exhibition, 1996

It becomes clear that the elements within this series of apparently straightforward paintings on paper act out some kind of role; for they do so again and again. The paintings have a delicate printed graphic precision to them. Blacks are not black, even the muted colour is applied evenly and clearly without volume. Relations between the elements are so still and fixed that the sensation is one of an overview. The overall picturing is somehow diagrammatical; it presents an autonomous topographical situation with its own rules, shifts, changes and strife. This is a slow, careful and limited dance in which 'significant' biomorphic question marks, stop-go pods, chequered areas and shapes like stones wrapped with paper are frozen together in relation to each other like players left by an abandoned board game. The pictures immediately set up a one to one relationship with the viewer and promise a close relationship or understanding [rather like the unconsciously retained layout of a familiar house] rather than a distanced view. The pictures have the scale and quality, perhaps, the kind of play on manners, more usually associated with the novel.

Although it is, of course, pointless to wrestle verbal narrative out from the two dimensional image it is clear that the subject here is the nature of contemporary domestic space. In a time when notions of freedom of unadulterated expression are brought into question John Crossley relishes, paradoxically, the opportunity to turn restriction, familiarity, even claustrophobia to advantage. It has taken time for the imagery to evolve and to be trusted. These coherent, cohesive, united 'purist' graphic images heighten and enhance a sense of the actual rather than the imaginary.

© Sacha Craddock