Selected texts and reviews

Contrappunto (DS) 2018

Accentato (Blu) 2019

Studio in London February 2020

In Four ( Green, Pink, Ochre, Cadmium ) 2019

Doubles and Trios 2019

PLAYTIME installation September 2019

Solo show Three Works Scarborough 2019

Solo show Three Works Scarborough 2019

Studio installation

Mercus Barn installation

The Drawing Collective at #21 Abstract Project, Paris 2016

Three Works installed Weymouth 2015

Colour in Place


4 Part Study

Mercus Barn installation

Colour/Boundary at the Slade Summer School

Not Titled (Orange Fan ) Private Collection.UK

Installation Colour/Boundary, Gallery North, Newcastle 2014

Colour in Place (Colore nei Luoghi)

Surface Connections, Holden Gallery Manchester
The Diagonal, Pictures before and after Photography #22 Turps Magazine

Paintings by Sharon Hall employ a structure of diagonals that converge without suggesting perspective depth. In Contrappunto (DS) (2018) they radiate from the geometric centre of the rectangle. In Accentato (Blu) (2019) they join the top to the bottom progressing laterally across the painting. The diagonals in In Four (Green, Pink, Ochre, Cadmium) (2019) and In Four (Blue, Yellow, Green ) (2019) connect the left and right sides of painting, marking out four tapering sections each given a different chromatic value.
     These sections appear as forms, kinetically relating to one another on the same plane. They participate in a space that seems to me to conform to Clement Greenberg’s notion of picture making. ‘Pictorial space joins and contains, and by containing makes everything it shows discontain itself and surrender itself to a unity, which in turn contains itself.’ The dynamism of the angles connecting the verticals creates a tension that is potentially disrupting. If the diagonals had been horizontals each section would be independent or ‘contained’. By using diagonals the shape of the wedges influences or adjusts to the shape of the adjacent areas. The forms are thus ‘discontained’ to surrender themselves to a unity bounded by the finite area of the picture’s dimensions.

David Sweet 2019


David Sweet

Painting and Time

[...] it is inorganic regularity that seems to characterise Sharon Hall’s paintings. Held by geometrical armatures, intense colour bands divide surfaces into sections. Their pulsating planes evoke minute, barely perceptible rhythms that nuance the firm and measurable time invoked by the pictorial architectonic.

Kamini Vellodi extract from essay Painting and Time in Playtime catalogue Arthouse1 London 2019

Kamini Vellodi

Sharon Hall : Three Works X 3

 The painterly language that informs Sharon Hall’s works is rooted in the experience and knowledge of how light works in painting.  Hall went to paint in Italy in 1991 when she was awarded a Rome Scholarship and it is possible that both her intense feeling for place and the colour language of her mature style come, at least partly, from her experience of Italy and Italian painting.   It is not so much the 'correct' chiaroscuro of the high Renaissance that interests her as the poetic-symbolic colour of the masters of the quattrocento, such as Fra Filippo Lippi, and also of the Mannerist, Jacopo Pontormo, that guides her in her quest for that ineffable sense of place that painting can evoke.

The geometrical scaffolding of the paintings is precisely as complex as it needs to be for the colour to do its work. In his essay 'On Colour' from The Salon of 1846 the poet Charles Baudelaire writes: “As the sunlight changes, tones change in value but, always respecting their sympathies and natural antipathies, continue to live in harmony through reciprocal connections.” These words could serve to describe Hall's colour modulations.  Tone-colour values are deployed in asymmetrical groups: dark, very dark, light, and very light, together with multiple nuances of warm and cool, strong and weak, that form a contrapuntal relationship with the symmetrical geometry. The geometry is the framework that enables this exchange system to function effectively. 

The photograph on the front cover of the catalogue for Hall's solo exhibition entitled Colour in Place in the Palazzo del Podestà, Pescia, Italy in 2013 shows two very small paintings on an empty expanse of wall. Scale is given by the inclusion of a stack of larger paintings face to the wall.  It is due to their extreme clarity and economy that these small paintings have a presence out of proportion to their size.  To make a very small painting seem large is always felt as a triumph by a painter.  Not only is this colour in space – it creates a space. 


David Saunders

Colour Boundary

Abstract Critical


Sharon Hall’s work is also strongly related to this tradition of ‘weightless’ abstract painting, calling to mind Kenneth Noland’s ‘chevron’ paintings especially. Her work adopts more evenly-applied zones of colour as an armature. Unlike Sweet, she does not vary the texture of her brushmarks, and her zones of colour neatly abut one another. Consequently, each area of colour takes on a more significant role. Some of the most successful works by Hall make use of asymmetrical arrangements: these allow the colours to function in structurally surprising ways. The quietly luxuriant Untitled (Orange Fan) (2009) is built upon a rational division of diagonally-subtended wedges of colour which radiate outwards from the centre of the canvas. Neither the division of the wedges, nor the colours used, are divided symmetrically: this decision gives the impression that the canvas ‘swings’ across the surface in a semi-clockwise movement. However, the strong cadmium red. which is just off-centre, prevents the painting from swinging too wildly off-kilter, ‘holding’ the composition together in a fragile equilibrium.

Hall also works successfully within the tondo format. This was rarely used in Western painting as it was difficult to reconcile with representational pictorial space. Abstract painting is more amenable to the format, but it poses its own challenges. Hall utilises a small scale, but the tondo format is successful in lending the work a sense of weightlessness. Tondo with Linen (2011) consists of six segments varying sizes. The upper half consists of three larger variations of grey, while the lower half consists of smaller segments of dull orange, ochre and grey-blue. Again, the zones of colour vary depending upon the ‘weight’ of the colour: the cooler segments requiring a larger zone in order to balance the smaller zones of warmer hues. Hall’s rectangular formats pose more of a difficulty in that the zones of colour are ordered in a more symmetrical fashion. In works such as Not Titled (Yellow Diagonals) (2011), Hall offsets this by utilising very closely-valued zones of lemon against the bare canvas, to lend the work a subtle radiance. However, the more assymetrical works create more pictorial interest for the viewer.

Stephen Moonie

Not Titled (Orange Fan ) COLOUR Boundary catalogue essay

The painting’s structure is based on rational divisions of its surface area, first into two, around the perpendicular centre line, with the resultant pair of rectangles subdivided by diagonals drawn from the top corners to the mid-point of the bottom edge. These simple moves establish what emerges as a gestalt, namely an inverted pyramid, balanced on its apex. But the work is not symmetrical. The right hand triangle is further divided into three more areas that are not answered on the left. These three shapes are perceived slightly differently to those within the pyramid. They seem to move in a one-sided clock-wise movement, adding a dynamic in terms of geometry, which is taken up by the colour, swinging through the spectrum from orange to yellows, deep then pale. The closeness in hue of the orange allows it to hang off the edge of the cadmium red, but the red, which is the key architectural element in the painting, is strong enough to support it. 

The surface is consistent throughout, while the density of the pigment confirms that the colour is ‘built’ out of the traditional material of painting, selected from the traditional palette rather than from the refraction of white light arranged around a colour wheel. The geometry is also practical rather than aspiring to the art of pure relationships. Left of centre the ambient chromatic temperature changes. The blue, ochre and umber represent the earth colours ranged against the more luxurious cadmiums, dividing the light in the painting virtually into two seasons. This gives rise to the significant visual experience offered by the painting, created by the contrast between the conditions across the recto/verso axis. It is as though the eye is taking a journey from north to south through several latitudes, sweeping left to right, from grey-blue to pale yellow, before returning to the chromatic and formal hospitality provided by the red triangle.





David Sweet

Colour Boundary Peel Review

Peel Magazine

COLOUR/Boundary is artist and curator David Sweet’s vision. A proposition, investigation, and area of research, ‘colour in painting’ resides at the centre of this thesis. Northumbria University have motive to hold such an exhibition in Gallery North, as their Colour Studio Northumbria (CSN) shares interests in the central themes of the exhibition. It’s not just at Northumbria University though, ‘Colour Research in Painting,’ it seems, is gaining reputation through other institutes such as the Slade School of Fine Art in London, and the Academy of Fine Art in Helsinki.

Colour is not a new concern within painting. In the early 16th century Titian’s disregard for the rules of composition in favour of a concern with colour, was one of the first major investigations into colour as a vehicle within painting2. Leaping forward to the 19th and 20th century, Paul Klee used colours and shades to create a feeling of balance or ‘rightness’3, and Mondrian was concerned with exploring the relationship between elementary colours.4It seems that more so than any other fine art practice, painting certainly has a hold over matters of colour.

Entering Gallery North, it is a minimalist hang. Mostly small paintings are hung formally on white walls, each artist displays two or three paintings side by side, and as the space is navigated, one observes each artist’s work in turn.  It’s a fairly conservative set-up, but it seems appropriate for the works on displayModest paintings by Caroline de Lannoy seem to initiate the exhibition; two small square boards hang side by side; according to the list of works, they are both part of a series of works titled Re-echo (2013). The compositions are a division of space via lines (creating precise geometric sections), and each of which is painted in hues of the same colour; in the case of these two paintings, red and green. They looked, to me, familiar; modernist renderings of a spectrum of hues. Lannoy’s works seem to evoke the deconstruction of fields of vision and the separation of colours through geometric forces. The alchemy of colour seems of significant importance, the precise mixing of gradients of colour and also the application of the paint in such a way as to remove the artists’ hand told me that this was not a painting born of passion, but of science.

Moving on, I found myself drawn to a painting by Mali Morris. Titled Wilbury (2012), the wet translucent repetitive brush strokes build a lattice, and at the front of the picture plane, a series of circular motifs are painted in flat colour. There is intensity in the latticework. Each layer has been painted out of synch with the prior, some of the colours are muddied and blurred from working wet on wet, whilst the ground of vivid colour holds true and firm. There is a tension between the wet painterly latticework and the hard-edged circular motifs. The paintings of Morris explore the boundaries of different kind of pictorial spaces, using colour and opacity as the means for this separation.

In the accompanying catalogue to COLOUR/Boundary, David Sweet sets out his curatorial agenda, drawing up a compelling dialogue through which he creates a comparison between the role of music in film, to the role of colour in painting. He compiles a short history of colour in painting from the 16th and 17th century via the Impressionists, to arrive at the modern day, all the while proposing that the works on display in COLOUR/Boundary involve an ‘invented terrain’ in which ‘colour relationships become visible within chosen boundaries’5 (Sweet, 2014).

Of Sharon Hall’s paintings, the work ‘Not titled (White Diagonals with Linen)’ (2013) grabs my attention. A small linen canvas is primed with a transparent ground. White diagonals stretch out from the centre of the canvas to the frame, and within these sections we find white triangles of different opacities. The result is a refined study of the relationship between the pure white and textile of the linen. The opaque white paint moves to translucent white, and then bare linen. The white paint acts as a device to create a separation between reality and painted space, the tools of a painter laid bare.

In contrast to the other paintings on display, Clyde Hopkins presents a series of larger paintings that use a much wider array of colours, forms and marks. His energetic paintings feature swirling colourful forms sat atop pointillist renderings of organic forms. I am reminded of sedimentary layers in the earth, the twisting branches of trees and of cellular structures. His palette is diverse, but tonally muted, as if one were viewing colour through a heat wave. His investigation into colour is chaotic, the eye sweeps across the surface of the picture plane, restless, and the vast amount of visual information tricks the retina and the colours and forms change with each dart of the eye.


David Sweet, in line with his curatorial vision, presents his own work. The alchemy of paint sings from his paintings, especially in ‘Moulin Rouge’ (2013). Made in response to Matisse’s ‘L’Escargot,’ the composition is a geometrical rendering, with a central diamond motif surrounded by coloured rectangular subdivisions. Colour, and its placement within the pictorial space, is the central goal of this work. Sweet recognises this within the catalogue, in which he suggests that the opposition of primary colours is breached via the use of green, which is of course born of blue and yellow and also the complementary of red. Sweet’s methodology is one of carful consideration of how colour constitutes the painted form, and through minimalist renderings in paint he is able to investigate and manipulate this process.


COLOUR/Boundary goes a long way in achieving a visual thesis of the use of colour and it’s boundaries within painting. The works on display evidence different approaches to this theme, and provoke one to look and think, closer and deeper. Thinking about the other paintings on display in Newcastle at the present time, whilst not as avant-garde as ‘Riff/t,’ or as summative as ‘Painting Past Present: A Painter’s Craft,’ ‘COLOUR/Boundary’ presents a much more academic, even scientific, approach to painting. Paring painting down to its quintessential concerns, I am again reminded of Braque, and reflect that sometimes, it’s the most overt statement that is the most thought provoking.

Rachel McDermott is an Artist and Writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne.


Rachel McDermott

Eye and Mind #1

Catalogue Essay, Eye and Mind, The Mercus Barn, Mercus-Garrabet, Midi Pyrenees, France 2015

Sharon Hall’s paintings find complexity through colour rather than form, which is to say that a deliberately transparent permutation of geometric form becomes a context for the subtle shifts in colour relationships, that can be further explored as the paintings comprise more than one interchangeable panel. The resolved state of a complete painting is in Hall’s words “found”, through trial and error—the initial structure an adequate, or neutral armature, on which to place colour. Optically, there are also shifts of space that reflect the positive-negative aspects of the structure where there is also a tonal contrast. Take, In Part Sequence (Orange, Yellow, Terra Verde) 2014, in which this constant realignment of the segments of colour is a product of the duration of viewing. The rational construction of repeated triangles connected with a partial and implied grid is counterpoint to the structuring influence of the reduced chromatic range of orange, yellow and green. In, In Part Stacked Painting (GreenOrange, Yellow, White,) 2014, surface incidents from making—the action of a brush as well as characteristics such as absorbency—are all incorporated rather than illuminated. The two part painting, an overall vertical, the upper part of which is horizontal, reflects a duality in its repeated doubling—of two panels, and two pairs of triangles and displays a motion not unlike serial or fugue patterns in musical composition. In Hall’s paintings system and unitary repetition are willingly undermined rhythmically and not relied upon to provide cohesion—they represent a necessary premise that is then exposed to reconfigurations vis-à-vis colour.


David Rhodes

The Drawing Collective at #21 Abstract Project, Paris 2016

Cet ensemble de peintures et de gouaches, représenté ici dans les photographies, étudie les différentes manières dont les propriétés de la couleur et les structures géométriques simples peuvent travailler ensembles. Il résulte de leur interaction une résonance optique et un décalage de spatialité qui transcendent leur apparence simple. Cette série explore la matérialité physique ainsi que les plus insaisissables qualités de lumière et de translucidité. Elle reflète mon rapport à la place non seulement à travers la manière dont peuvent opérer la lumière et l'ombre dans un cadre architectural mais aussi dans ce qu'elle de mon intérêt pour la couleur ancrée et certaines traditions italiennes de fresques et de peintures murales.

Sharon Hall, translation Vincent Patillet