The contemporary world has lost touch with the spiritual. This is the message conveyed and addressed by the paintings of Iain Andrews. According to Andrews, the spiritual is the core of what we are so that when we neglect it we lose touch with ourselves. Andrews has therefore set himself the ambitious task of creating images that attempt to reconnect us to this spiritual essence. Over the last 10 years he has consistently explored traditional religious motifs; however rather than pursue tired formulas that either fall foul of vacuous nostalgia or mawkish sentiment or succumb to the temptations of contemporary invention and gimmickry, Andrews has consistently and rigorously sought to critique and reinvent the idiom. His current paintings exemplify this and consist of a series of painterly studies of largely religious themes based loosely on historical masterpieces. The purpose of this is to open up a vital dialogue with the imagery of this tradition and the ideas they contain and by doing so allow us to rediscover and reclaim both the imagery and the content for ourselves. But more significantly, Andrews identifies in these pictures the cause of the pathology of modern existential angst: the apparent opposition that separates our notions of the spiritual from the sensual. As a consequence, one is conceived as a threat to the other and suppressed by it. Through the sensual manner in which he paints his subjects and his blurring of the boundary between figuration and abstraction, Andrews vividly demonstrates the sensuality of spirit and the spirituality of sensation. In his paintings of crucifixions, ecstasies and ascensions there is a strong sense that the colours, marks and shapes are important in themselves; the feel of paint, the richness and gemlike intensity of the colour and the bustling, intense, layered surfaces reflect an obvious engagement with the formal aspects of the picture. Andrews therefore emphasizes the voluptuousness of traditional iconography through his transformative method of painting. However, by doing this Andrews gives new life to the subjects of his pictures so that, like Lazarus rising from the grave, they become vital once again.
Paul Webster - University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.
One of the unchanging purposes of the visual arts is to arouse conjecture and wonder in contemplation. This show straightway challenges our personal orientation within the greater realm of European art; and so much the better.
Are these turbulent sketches or pastiches on the works of Italian decorators of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who dignified vast interiors with religious and secular allegories? Of course not: and yet, like resonance imaging, we are teased by these gestural flurries of pigment and hints at resemblance that might be - an ersatz Titian chariot, a proxy Correggio angel, a Michelangesque limb, a swirling Veronesan drape. Now you see them... oh! no you don’t!
These are glancing references free of responsibility; allusions without indebtness; echoes independent of narrative and therefore of their own time; our time of reinvention, re-ordering and retelling.
John Fineran - Review of 'Edge of Figuration' 2008