Paintings by Biggs and Collings are never quite as straightforward as they seem. Their body of work references such diverse topics as pre-modern color organization, chance footprints in sand, industrialized cityscapes, and religious iconography. Now, with “They Shall be Male and Female,” at Vigo Gallery in London, the husband and wife strike upon the prismatic properties of fractured color.
Shifting hues and opacities hover and dance around each other in these 13 canvases. Colors are chosen and mixed by Emma Biggs, then painted onto canvas by Matthew Collings. For this married couple, the relationship between color, composition, and application is not just artistic.
In these artworks, every small decision has an impact. Perceptions change with different brushstrokes, color combinations, and arrangements. Like a glass prism dangling on a string, the canvases catch light differently depending where the viewer stands. The pieces are different from each other, and also from themselves.
The title of the exhibition, aside from a reference to the husband and wife duo, is a quote from the book of Genesis, as are the titles of all 13 works on display. By differentiating man from woman, Biggs and Collings highlight their own differentiation between color and application. Yet even as their fragmented canvases seem to shatter the pictorial plane, it’s actually evidence of the couple building beautiful collaborations—striking examples of new artistic and personal dynamics.
—Jack T. N. Smurthwaite