Squares and rectangles, mapped out in colour upon a wall, created by a person unseen: the building blocks of what we perceive on the most basic level, as creative communication. Entering into the exchange with Craik and Cruikshank we engage in a process of un-doing, where fleeting impressions are deceptive.
Adding and subtracting multiple delicate layers of pigmented glaze, the artists work their subtle alchemy on the boundaries of the picture plane; within the considered act of painting and un-painting a myth of flatness and opacity is simultaneously cast and deconstructed. The spectator's eye roams, resting a while on the edges of the support (a whispered background reference in our search for origin). Taking a visual leap, we perceive this precipice before willingly escaping the constraints of geometry.
Craik creates eye-pleasing plateaux, where the erosion of converging strata is bordered by softly undulating drips or sheer edges of exposed ground. Where the run-off of prior glazes gather and hang, the fluid is rendered solid: sculptural, elemental; like two tones of clay kneaded together. Yet the hand of the maker is notably absent, leaving us to consider the traces of an intangible history.
Craik's delicate excavations uncover clues to a unique language, articulated in stanzas formed of pairs or series. Relationships are built and balanced, selected intuitively as thoughts shift between nature and culture. The breakdown of a colour ratio reads as a horizon and Aluminium sheet (the synthetic material borne of a desire for architectural lightness and durability) is transformed by environment, time and personal projection, to embody the washed softness of a pebble.
Cruikshank sends a depth-charge into the boundless possibilities of environment and landscape. Harmonious colour-pairings glow in soft halos, each registering its likeness in a partner. A measured deepening of hue creates four saturated vanishing points where corners recede and memories fade.
Where subtle tonal shifts converge, evanescent forms resist our scrutiny, like ghosts on the retina. The act of direct and purposeful looking negates the forms we are conditioned to seek.
Despite their tiny scale, the works on paper harness an immense energy from the push and pull of each layer. Materials clash, each fighting to make its presence felt as the next attempts to obliterate it. Past actions reverberate throughout Cruikshank's work, unsettling their apparent stillness. We wander into mental territories which challenge nature itself as a construct.
In imparting a measured ambiguity to the notions of subject and object, the artists permit the beholder to actively inhabit the space which lies in-between. If 'squaring the circle' represents an exercise in futility, Craik and Cruikshank evade simple solutions by making, melting, and moving beyond the square.
Kate Andrews is an independent writer based in Edinburgh.