Counterpoint : Joy Arden & Jai Llewellyn

2 - 30 April 2022

Counterpoint seeks to provide new perspectives on Joy Arden and Jai Llewellyn’s works. 

Through references to abstraction and minimalism, Llewellyn and Arden offer a dynamic exploration of their practice.


Joy Arden’s recent work marks a shift in emphasis from the earth and tinted colours and the thick, opaque oil paint of previous paintings. The works presented in Counterpoint are mostly acrylic paint on heavy Fabriano paper and panels. They are an exploration of a different process, a new way of working the paint dictated by the different quality of the medium. They focus on gestural mark-making, emphasising the brushwork sometimes in broad sweeps. This provided a way of developing a lively, animated surface. A darker, more saturated colour palette was developed as part of the process of layering and overpainting. The transparency of some paints and inks in this process provides richness to the colour. Arden paints intuitively. she strives to provide atmosphere and presence. “I don’t usually start with a particular idea in mind. Or if I do, it inevitably changes as the work grows during the process of building and destruction”. It is created in the moment when eventually she finds something that resonates with her own experience, a feeling, a place, or any other visual stimuli. The work often reflects an interest in partially hidden forms, worn surfaces, marks made by human activity as well as natural forms.


For the past few years, Jai Llewellyn has been making small-scale paintings that are driven by his personal experience. Painting is a constant struggle to find oneself, to find truth via material and process that is in constant flux. His work is concrete yet fluid, resolved yet open, it points to a solution that is never quite reached. It is always a compromise between what the artist wants to do and what the paint wants to do. Working on several pieces for relatively long periods of time, Llewellyn paints over and over to reach the final stage that often comes quickly together and always in the moment. Even though the paintings are laboured, they keep the freshness and vitality of something that is new. To express emotion with an economy of imagery, the artist borrows from minimalism and transcends this particular affinity. To him, painting is a physical activity, he needs to feel a physical connection with the canvas, the paint and the colour to create an emotional attachment. The painting needs to be beaten into shape, to be an extension of his physical being, before any kind of feeling is present. Everything needs to happen in the painting, it is not rehearsed or planned, mistakes and accidents are all present on the canvas.