Orlanda Broom: Shapeshifters | Grove Square Galleries

Producing this collection of abstract works, made with colourful resin on canvas, must have taken a toll on the artist. Orlanda Broom can only work on works using resin for a couple of months each year - otherwise the ambient temperature isn’t right. The perfectionist artist also doesn’t allow any resin works with trapped hairs and dust out of the studio.

“I’m interested in the interpretation of abstract works,” she says. “I enjoy that people respond and read the paintings in their own way. I like making space for the personal, subjective response of the viewer and I have a strong desire to allow the viewer their own flow of thought.”

orlanda broom - warp

Let’s take Warp above as an example. As the artist suggests, it’s so tempting to try to make out forms in these vibrantly colourful shapes. Maybe something tiny, like a cell; maybe something cosmically huge like a galaxy. The colours, slightly translucent, almost seem to tremble in front of us - though of course, set resin can never move again. Even what seem to be brushstrokes and patterns in the resin are illusory: looked at from the side, the surface of these shiny pools is entirely flat.

The shinily deceptive effect of the works reminded me of the artist Rachel Howard, whose work with drips of gloss paint I’ve featured a couple of times on this site. But Broom’s practice is even more unforgiving: her resin sets quickly into something hard and immovable, the patterns appearing once, then never changing again.

Broom’s forms seem like shapeshifters. But that’s all a trick of the eye. The shapes aren’t shifting: they’re locked, trapped in their hard, glossy, reflective carapace. Final interpretation is resisted.

Orlanda Broom: Shapeshifters is at Grove Square Galleries (London). 16 June to 30 July 2022