Why one painting is so successful over another is always a rich conversation to have with any artist.
Somerville agrees. “I love the ghost-like translucency; the layers build up improvised but controlled…it might take years before I consider a canvas really finished and then the title might include the date 2004 – 2019. It’s a truth, and you need to be honest, let the originality of the painting live on – and always the time concept remains – let the painting live on, sing… ”
In Somerville’s pure abstract work such as this, paint itself becomes the poetry, a lifting veil, a movement within layers, a present tense; these are acts of seeing and being – which is why I ask him, so many of his paintings are titled in the present tense – or are states of being.
It is with Somerville’s litheness of colour and form that I have come to realize I’ve developed a small addiction to his Instagram account, which viewed matrix-like, develops a magical life-force of its own, like a living mandala, alchemically charged, an energy-wave through the multiple Insta screens. I dip in, dip out, it’s like dancing with a partner, there’s a real reciprocation.
The abstract series New York lies before us, high coloured acrylics on paper. The paintings have real entry points and we agree, what Ginsberg loved to call the space gap in the canvas and Cy Twombly termed the ‘envelope of elasticity.’ Somerville nods. “These are successful because of the fluidity of the brushwork, the hand directly onto paper, the looseness’ of it, muscular, gestural…” He pauses. I make a reference to what I particularly love, Somerville’s signature layering and the quality of weightlessness to the layers of paint – what I see as an easiness, a lightness.