One is initially drawn to Joel Dickens' work by the colour, the raw immediacy of the gesture and the spontaneity and simplicity of the image as a whole. However, they seem simultaneously carefree and intense and this invokes a feeling of unease.
It is upon closer inspection of the painting surface that one appreciates the origin of this dichotomy; the multiple layering of specifically mixed colour and the fact that the gesture is subtracted from the top colour, as opposed to being added. Joel spends hours experimenting and mixing paint to give him the combinations he desires and many canvases are abandoned along the way, when the combinations are ultimately unsuccessful. The ‘carving’ of the motif is painstaking and nerve wracking.
When we appreciate this process we now read the painting as a disciplined and time consuming exercise, constructing the metaphor for life that threads these works together; spontaneous expression is harnessed, compressed and edited into something which, for Joel, more accurately represents modern reality.