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Neil Canning - ING

  • As soon as you step out of the lift you are surrounded on all sides by colour, crashing and washing over you like a luxurious wave of visual sensuality. One of the people at the bank said that all the dark portraits of the founders of the bank had been removed and replaced with this burst of light.


    Neil Canning is a clever artist - I remember making a print at Advanced Graphics in London, where Neil makes his prints, and one of the print makers said: "He's really clever, he can put just a tiny dot of black in the far corner of the painting and it brings life to the whole picture. And it's true, each of the paintings has a kind of signature moment - an instant of chaos and abandon that energises all the other sections. For instance look at the white circle and splash in the pciture below - or the yellow streak in the one below that.





    There's something intersting about these signature moments - other than the pleasure of their wild abandon. They add a sense of time to the paintings. You can feel, visually, the time that was taken to build up the backgound in the picture, the work that went into preparing the surface for this moment of abandon that could make or break the mood. It's no mean feat to add this sense of differing time into a painting, along with a thrill that all that work could be wasted if the final moment doesn't work. But as in the picture below with the three red 'claw' marks when it works it's a treat.



    But could there be criticsm of this method - I had an interview at Goldsmiths where two tutors looked at my paintings, which had signature moments, and they said: "So you've found a way to finish the paintings." It was a criticism and has bothered me since, but I think it was wrong. Even within a signaure moment you can explore and work and refine and imagine and develop and make the signature moment better and better, more and more refined.


    This is what Neil has done in one of the paintings here - the painting (below) is called Ocean Current and was the winnner of the ING purchase prize from the ING Discerning Eye competition. In this one he's managed to layer his signature moments - instead of one there's two. And he has quite literally layered the moments as there's a piece of board attached to the front of the painting, this becomes one of the signature moments, and behind it there's a streak of yellow and a tiny red dot: signature moment two. It's briliant and poetical the way these moments are layered, giving a sense of time and fluidity as you move from one startlig event to the next. 


    This is a fascinating show that reveals not only a lot about how to make paintings but to develop them - do see it.



    Review by Robert Dunt, Practising Artist and Founder/CEO -

    The exhibitiion runs at ING, 60 London Wall from Thursday 20th September to Friday 26th October.


    Viewing is by appointment only and is possible during office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Appointments can be made by calling 020 7767 6721.


    Neil Canning’s painting Ocean Current was the winner of the ING Purchase Prize at the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in 2011 (

    ING has sponsored the Discerning Eye Exhibition since 1999. The annual exhibition showcases work (2d and 3d) chosen by six selectors - two collectors, two critics, and two artists. All the work is for sale. There is a size limit on the work - it must be 20" x 20" or less. Work is selected from a nationwide open submission and for a certain percentage of their total selection, selectors invited artists of their choice. 


    The 2012 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition will be from 15 to 25 November 2012 at The Mall Galleries, London.