Belén Rodríguez – I turn Chilli Red

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The one thing everyone understands about painting is that it is a pigment applied on top of a surface. In I Turn Chilli Red, Madrid-based artist Belén Rodríguez challenges even this most basic appreciation.

For several years, she has been investigating techniques in colouring and displaying fabric. The works on offer here at Josh Lilley are canvases that have imbibed the colours. Rodríguez ignores any questions about the boundaries between painting and dying and allows pigment and surface to do their thing.

The result is hangings from compact framings to epic sized pieces made with different fabrics stitched together. Plancton is an A4 sized work which is simply dyed cotton and pencil, yet it evokes an endless, microbial landscape in three dimensions. In contrast, the show’s eponymous piece (pictured) stands over two metres tall, drawing the viewer into the colour and depth of a dark but unspecified environment.

A smaller work, Dust, provides an interesting segue between the contrastingly scaled pieces. Bleach is also used to further disorientate the pigments and the subject seems to bleed far outside the parameters of the frame implying a yearning to be a larger work. Sun Dyed 1 and it’s second companion are also giant objects that appear to be woven cotton fabric upon which images have been created with bleach. They stand like impressionistic tapestries, each thread holding the dust and mist that the image evokes.

This body of work is as absorbing as the materials it is built upon. The show runs from 22 February to 30 March 2019 at Josh Lilley, 44-46 Riding House Street, London W1W 7EX. Admission is free.