Dissonant Harmony

Robinson & McMahon

18 – 28 July 2018

Saturday 21 July, 1pm. Helen McMahon and Jason Robinson in conversation  No need to book. 

Robinson & McMahon is a collaboration of two artists with completely different painting methods who work on the same canvas.

“Most of our work starts in the landscape. We can visit a place and both be immersed in the same environment at the same time and still come away with different influences to put together.”

Robinson will usually sketch, noting textures, forms, shapes. McMahon prefers to take photographs, capturing light, space and a photographer’s sense of editing.

“The paintings usually show the way our distinctly different methods combine, resulting in images that have a dissonant harmony – resolved differences of opinion, a playful discussion, or even a full-blown argument. Our paintings exist because of the other, not necessarily bearing equal marks, but holds some kind of resolution.”

A finished work exists as a result of all marks made by both artists, whether they are still seen, have been obliterated or have just left a trace. They evoke a sense of place, however arbitrary they have been put together.

This most recent body of work has taken a more considered, calmer approach from their usual way of working. Reflecting on his printmaking practice, Robinson has begun the paintings, building layers of simple, deliberate direct mark making from stencils. Forms and shapes appear from a gessoed ground that start the realization of an image. McMahon aims to animate the forms and works with thin washes of oil colour to build up light, space and depth. There is sometimes an immediate, almost quiet resolution, but mostly the paintings go back and forth – a few arguments or discussions – to get to where the artists agree the work is finished.

Robinson & McMahon began collaborating whilst at The Cass School of Art and, motivated by receiving the Vice Chancellor’s Purchase Prize on graduation, they decided to continue arguing and making paintings together.