Paintings by Jeremy Moon are like brightly-coloured UFOs that have somehow found their way to earth.
Although an influential figure in abstract painting and the 1960s London art scene, exhibitions of Moon’s work are a rare occurence.
But now PEER gallery in Hoxton and Large Glass on Caledonian Road are jointly presenting a selection of paintings and drawings by the artist, who died in a motorbike accident in 1973 at the age of 39.
PEER is also showing a large sculpture by young Glasgow-based artist, Neil Clements, who has selected the works for both shows.
Clements’ large and airy sculpture is very reminiscent of a 1960s sculpture by Anthony Caro, but has now been reimagined it as a structure for a slide show, with each digitally produced slide depicting paintings by Moon between 1964 and 1968.
Moon was one of the first artists in Britain to experiment with shaped canvases, and was known for his non-representational paintings of bright colour and geometrical clarity.
Comedy and seriousness pack this show. The comedy comes from the paintings’ ability to anticipate our encounter with them as the act of viewing unveils layers of lightness and playful intelligence.
The interplay between the depicted and literal form is a significant development in visual language. Out of Nowhere (1965) plays with the perception and optical, our eyes initially reading the circular voids as painted white holes.
In No 3/73 (1973) the shaped canvas leads the eye from the depicted orange strip on the bottom left hand corner to the literal form jutting out into space after crossing a horizontal black band.
Moon would explore all the possibilities of the paintings through a vast outpouring of drawings, only arriving at a pictorial solution when as many possible options converge. This intentional instability creates a tension and an energy pulling in different directions.
“These are paintings that welcome you into their space,” says Neil Clements, artist-curator and PhD Research Student at Glasgow School of Art, adding: “He worked hard to make it look easy.”
Moon famously hated critics, Clements says. One can see how the singularity, simplicity and intuitive nature, the logic and irrationality of the paintings, wilfully resist categories and language.
There’s an extraordinary freshness to the work in Out of Nowhere, which has been specially restored for the occasion.
Moon’s work feels so contemporary because the paintings look to the future, they open up and push into new spaces. By tilting the rigidity of modernist rationalism something very human comes through, like a flower sprouting through the cracks in concrete.
Out of Nowhere
Until 17 September
97-99 Hoxton Street