Graphite is an amazing material – at one end we all have some at home in our HB pencils; on the other, when compressed under high pressures, it can become one of the most expensive and luxurious gems on earth – a diamond. If you have ever visited a diamond mine, you will realise what a rare and expensive material this is, with a huge pile of waste outside in which a handful of valuable diamonds has been discovered. If you are a scientist, you will be excited about graphene, a material which is 100 times stronger than the best steel.
As you open the door in Lisson Street you can smell a slight aroma of oily lubricant, which perhaps links to graphite’s use as a lubricant in the marine industry because of ability to withstand extreme pressures and high temperature – a fascinating material.
The artist Jason Martin has adopted graphite as his raw material to mix with traditional paint in his paintings, and his new works are less flamboyant and curving than previous exhibitions. It is quite a contrast – he has become more subtle, more architectural, more subdued, exploring the shades of limited colours and, with the use of graphite discovering new colours in the process. White, blue and grey interconnect as never before, but still with a paint technique that is thick and flowing.
And, to raise the ante, the windows of the Lisson Gallery have been whitened out so that no nasty intrusive colours like green from trees, red from brick buildings or bright orange from anoraks intrude into this colour laboratory. The only changing scenario allowed is daylight and the occasional splash of sunlight through the rooflights in the different galleries, yet the base colours do achieve tints of colours such as red and green, on the spectrum of the rainbow.