Daniel Sturgis, Living Well, 2007

Daniel Sturgis

Daniel Sturgis is an English artist who makes paintings that hover between abstraction and representation. At the Locker Plant he showed seven differently sized new paintings: one small, four medium, two large. Sturgis uses simple geometric or organic-seeming forms—rows of overlapping rectangles; floating trapezoids and ball shapes—and applies his vivid, decal-like colors flatly, building the paintings up slowly using many layers of thin coats of acrylic paint.

The crisp shapes and popping colors at first suggest hard-edge painting and graphic design, but Sturgis’s painting never quite resolve the way one might expect. On closer look the compositions always turns out to be asymmetrical, off-kilter, out of true. The stacks of rectangles never stand up straight but tilt off-center, as though arrested in the act of semaphoring to the viewer. Lines don’t meet where they might be expected to; repeating shapes suddenly fail to repeat; big friendly forms are abruptly cropped at the edge of the canvas. There is a sense of pause or poise built into the paintings—everything appears ready to start moving the moment the viewer looks away. Similarly, while Sturgis’s precise shapes and flat colors look mechanically applied at first, on closer inspection the artist’s hand modestly asserts itself: brushstrokes become visible and traces of graphite appear. These look like guidelines at first, but as the marks rest atop the paint surface, it becomes clear that they were applied after the paint: another sly way in which the paintings skirt expectation.

Daniel Sturgis has a BA in Fine Art from the Camberwell College of Art and a MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, both in London. In recent years he has had solo exhibitions at Galerie Hollenbach, Stuttgart, Germany; Cynthia Broan Gallery, New York; The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, Cumbria; the Apartment, Athens, Greece; and Richard Salmon Gallery, London. He has also shown his work in numerous group shows in the U.K. and Europe. Sturgis also works occasionally as a curator, writer, and lecturer. He lives and works in London.