Matthew Collings - 'The Law Of Surprise'
Coherent, achieved paintings that reward looking and re-looking, how often does this happen? The more frequent contemporary formula is a semblance of energy or well-known sign for it, in support of pat, neat, clichéd social meaning, often involving a crassly imposed graphic lay out. With these new paintings by Howard Dyke, which could easily be applauded by the new bosses of art for affirming current orthodox ideas of meaning, that doesn’t seem to be the deal exactly: his lay-outs and his rich painterly space zing off each other and are mutually dependent, genuinely mutually energising. A two-hundred year build-up of ideas about aesthetics results in a sort of divided up space in Cubism or Abstract Expressionism, say, where we don’t tell ourselves that hideous deformed monsters are being pictured, or cosmic explosions anticipating cheesy special effects in Star Trek. Instead, life or existence is expressed, with certain visual ideas serving as metaphors for how reality was experienced in those times. This mindset, in which art is given maximum dignity, instead of being thought of as something repulsively derisory and empty, and serving only money or fashion (it might serve both but they aren't assumed to be its only priorities, and in fact its real priority is completely arbitrary to them) is the context for Howard's witty paintings.