Penny Coss is a painter who manipulates formal elements from the tradition of abstract expressionism derived from interpretations of the landscape that focus on relationships of exchange between individuals and natural landscapes.
Penny draws on memories, research and imaginings from her experiences of various landscapes. A concealed aquifer is alluded to via the pools, blots, blooms, plumes and washes of colour that form from her method of painting. Her thinned pigments stain the canvas as if it has been worked upon by the fluctuations of the body of water. These images are a form of psychogeography, exploring the effects of the geographical environment she is intimate with or those that have troubled histories.
Coss’ response to landscape is situational; her encounters with the natural environment , its biology, botany and geology with oblique references to energy and landscape systems in nature is expressed through a refined process of paint application, most recently through staining and pouring . There is almost irreverence to some of Coss’ applications from juxtapositions of lush lurid colours to counter intuitive or incongruous underpainting - which keeps the surfaces sensual and visual. “My work is about those important moments of exchange within the landscape and with the possibility of being simultaneously in there and out there.”
Coss’ landscape paintings are never backdrops but spaces to inhabit and walk through. Astute placements of fixed forms are defined by spills and flows of paint. Combining cool retreats and hot spots of neon colour are also devices used to draw the viewer in. Coss revels in the process of translating her experience and memory of space through paint. She is mindful that focus, chaos, reverie and knowing (all aspects of the painting process) should equally become the viewers’ experience. Time absorbed studio practice: methodically preparing surfaces with thin applications of paint, sensitively sanding back to create silky smooth and absorbent ground, mixing pigments and testing swatches of colour, lengthy periods of studying the paintings, reviewing work in progress through lens and screen are as much imbued in the final paintings as is the original landscape impetus. Coss refers to the work and play of her art practise as ‘thinking in painting, not thinking about painting’. It is the conflation of action and contemplation similar to the familiar routine of walking that Penny Coss shares with us. Penny Bovell 2012