ANDREW SETO and DAVID SMALL

3 – 27 September

It’s not unusual for us to pair two artists whose work seems to have nothing in common save for our respect for their art or their mutual respect for each other’s. But neither is it unusual to find, not so far beneath the surface, connections showing parallel concerns within their practice.

Both artists here have a schematic which takes us away from any obvious origin into a space that exists resolutely within the frame, upon the canvas. A borrowed and figmental landscape which in Seto’s case is populated by anxious fĂȘtes galantes or fragmented background scenes, or in Small’s by severe yet allusive matrices, quasi-machines that set up the sensual interplay of some slightly chilling drama.

It’s all about the line. The stabbing brushmarks of Andrew Seto which prevent us from seeing what’s to see, against the scalpelled delineations of David Small. who shows us with painful clarity forms that had better not exist.

With Seto stark lines and figures wriggle, huddle together, try to blot each other out, or stay apart. It’s a tough old world. Yet the sophistication and refinement of his arrangement of marks belies their rough execution. With Seto there’s little stability, no final pose in the game of musical chairs. While David Small takes hold of geometry and wrings its neck. as precise as instructions for a forensic pathologist, Cronenberg mutations done with the dispassionate delicacy of a Ben Nicholson etching, a clear view of tubes that should go somewhere but don’t, abruptly ending in gaping orifices. At which time the geometry reasserts itself as the lines echo and re-echo, setting up resonances not quite known in nature.

In both there is a bold translation from the first impulse – a de-rationalisation, a patterning and a reversal – and a thoughtful understanding of the abyss that can lie under the decorative process.