Survey of abstract paintings by Daniel Sharp

Feminine Reflection, 2009
acrylic on canvas, 203.2 x 142.2 cm (80 x 56 inches)
private collection

Beginning with a ground of eleven vertical stripes, and referring to the modernist style of geometric abstraction, the strict geometric stripes are overlaid (disrupted) with a splashy wash of paint and then a soft oval form that contrasts and complements the hard vertical ground pattern. On a simple level the painting is a composition that includes masculine and feminine forms.

The painting combines an admiration for 20th century modernist geometric abstract painting, such as works from specific periods by Canadian artists Guido Molinari, Jaan Poldaas, and others, with an acknowledgement that such geometric idealism and purity does not present a balanced or nuanced or full portrayal of the world. As a viewpoint, geometric abstraction proposes a desire for clarity, concision, orderliness, and possible transcendence that in Sharp’s view is unobtainable in the world we live in.

The painting Feminine Reflection proposes a different and possibly more comprehensive picture that balances structure and gesture. Along with straight-edge construction there is gesture, impulse, fluidity, and chance, as well as idealistic form and desire in the metaphoric forms of straight and curving geometry.

It Is A River, 1984
acrylic on canvas, 166.4 x 172.7 cm (65.5 x 68 inches)
private collection

The title of this painting proposes the metaphor that life is a river. Our journey is through time that flows inexorably. The painting composition includes improvisations on hexagons and equilateral triangles. Inspired by the chemical description of carbon molecules as hexagon rings, the geometric improvisation reflects the notion of the complexity of molecular structures of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, etc. that makes up living biological systems. The artist’s belief is that the chemical elements in our bodies do not disappear when we die, but are re-constituted, and re-cycled in a process that does not end. The shimmering line on the right side of the painting depicts a light reflecting on water, indicating a river, representing a continuation in time and another representation of light.

State of Mind, 2015
oil on canvas, 168 x 168 cm (66 x 66 inches)
collection of the artist

On a background of deep blue striped brushstrokes, a graphic figure is delineated in curving forms. The smooth areas of the figure make four forms that seem to intertwine. The colours are cool and calm. The graphic figure appears to glow with light, due to the soft modulations of oil paint and the dark background.

As enigmatic as the shape appears, it twists and overlaps in a strangely restful and contemplative manner, like an abstract flower, or like a description of a quiet state of mind.

Just About Everything, 2015
acrylic on canvas, 168 x 168 cm (66 x 66 inches)
collection of the artist

Just About Everything could be simply described as eleven vertical stripes of grey tones.

Seen in person at a human-figure scale, the painting is a fence, or a screen, or a wall of sonorous grey chimes. The colours of the stripes play on the notion of harmony and the brushstrokes and colours vibrate softly. The greys are improvised tones of hand-painted colour.

While referring to a history of stripe painting in the modernist tradition, this painting avoids primary colour and indeed stays away from pure colour in favour of rich modulations of grey tones. The edges are not machine straight and hard. 

The painting stands as one in a series of studies in grey. Sharp is interested in the concept of grey as a value or symbol. More than a description of colour, grey is a concept alluding to such things as weather, or age and wisdom, or silver and platinum richness, or an ethical middle area between right and wrong.

As much as an abstract painting can represent in metaphor a picture of the world, or a model of organization and feeling of a person’s view of the world, the title Just About Everything proposes that eleven grey stripes (sonorous grey chimes) could be a modest statement (just) about this and that in the viewer’s world, or about everything. 

The title of the painting also owes inspiration and acknowledgement to the painting title of a beautiful and revelatory painting by Milly Ristvedt ‘Everything and Nothing’ which is a large-scale grey-striped painting of a different kind. 

The Unconscious Mind, 2014-2017
acrylic on canvas, 168 x 168 cm
collection of the artist

The Unconscious Mind is an abstract portrait in which two figures, or two characters meet on a painted ground. The dialogue is ambiguous. In the way that every painting is a kind of self-portrait, this work might also be viewed as the artist’s attempt to portray different and opposing traits of an individual. 

The characteristics of the two painted figures are easily described with opposing terms such as monochrome versus polychrome, soft versus bright, smooth and curved versus jagged and straight-lined. Depending on the viewers’ inclinations the figures can represent psychological characteristics, such as: 
feminine / masculine
mother / father
you / me

The anima and animus, in Carl Jung’s school of analytical psychology, are the two primary anthropomorphic archetypes of the unconscious mind. This painting could be seen as a portrayal of a single personality and the internal conversation involved in a balanced life of the mind. 

installation views 
CUBE Gallery, Ottawa from August 1 to September 3, 2017