This two-part exhibition of works by Jeremy Moon, curated by the young, Glasgow-based artist Neil Clements, consisted of working sketches, studies, and archival material at Large Glass, while at PEER four of his paintings were accompanied by a slide show projected within a large sculpture by Clements. Having studied law and then worked briefly in advertising while maintaining an interest in classical ballet, Moon was inspired to turn to art after seeing the now-legendary “Situation” exhibition at the Royal Society of British Artists gallery in 1960. Aside from a few months at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, he was largely self-educated. As with many British artists of his generation, his work can be seen as a response to American abstraction—in Moon’s case, to Minimalist painting and in particular that of Frank Stella.
The four shaped canvases at PEER, dating from 1965 to 1973—the year of Moon’s death from a motorcycle accident at the age of thirty-nine—played with various forms: circles, triangles, an inverted Y, and an eccentric V-like shape. The selection emphasized Clements’s observation that the key quality in Moon’s art is instability, “something that worries at the edges of even his most static compositions,” refusing to provide the viewer “with ample enough information to read the paintings entirely as a three-dimensional object or as an illusionistic image.” That is, the depicted shapes (the painted forms) are in conflict or dialogue with the literal outline of the canvas, creating a sense of uncertainty. For example, Out of Nowhere, 1965, is a blue tondo with eleven circular perforations cut into its surface like the holes in a Swiss cheese, one of which crosses the rim of the structure itself. The white circles of supporting wall appear to float up and across the blue surface. That vacillation between literalness and illusion—holes in the surfaces or white circles on a blue ground?—is symptomatic of Moon’s work. Shadows, 1965, has a six-pointed shape like a Star of David while depicting one deep-green triangle with three smaller triangles in orange, salmon pink, and purple extending from each edge. At first, it could suggest one polygon inverted over another, but the colors of the smaller triangles contradict the logic of the overlap. Whereas the “deductive” rationale of the shape of a Stella canvas is determined by the depicted form and vice versa, Moon explores the illusionistic possibilities of each composition. Coupled with its objecthood, each work creates a moment of slippage, an instability that turns the glance into a gaze and encourages viewers to deepen their attention.
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