As Josh Raz spoke with such elan on Soho Radio last Thursday (see 23:00m), we thought we’d take a closer look at the work he’s created for Unit London’s new group show Beyond Borders. Raz is a young British artist who, since graduating in fine art from Newcastle University, has won the esteemed HIX award and exhibited at Unit Uncovers.
Raz’s work questions the veracity of the two-dimensional image with spliced, angular landscapes and warped perspective paintings. Burnished auburn and gold often neighbour dark blues and purples in an autumnal palette that symbolises visual atrophy: the fulcrum of Raz’s aesthetic philosophy.
Self Portrait (I & Those That Made Me)
In this, the largest of three pieces, Raz plays with spatial composition: large rain droplets fall across the canvas from right to left, this is offset by the geometric floor that’s angled the other way. Each droplet is filled with a vibrant splash of colour that looks like it’s been thrown at the canvas, up close these are bacterial image, reminiscent of a substance under a microscope. The droplets hint at the presence of a large expressionist canvas lying underneath; one that is exposed in carved out chunks, but in reality this is just meticulous painting. The figures present span the visual spectrum: one green, one blue, one gold – they limply inhabit Raz’s wooded world, as if their energy has been sapped by the dynamism of the painting.
Dog Walk With Wild Dog & Bone
In this verdant painting Raz uses his command of geometric patterning to great effect. In the bottom half of the composition he uses a subtle variety of greens that begin to mimic the contours of terrain. As the eye follows the direction of the dog walkers we shift up into the blue hues that comprise the sky – however this kaleidoscopic style also allows these spaces to be interpreted as mountains.
In this piece Raz’s palette in more muted. Faded, washed out, autumnal colours fill a similarly kaleidoscopic space. A windswept heron is nearly blown off its feet in a scene filled with blustery dynamism; while a supine figure plays a recorder to somebody with hands clasped over their ears – giving the painting a slightly ominous, sonorous feeling.