London

View of “Jeremy Moon: Out of Nowhere,” 2016. From left: No. 3/73, 1973; English Rose, 1967; Out of Nowhere, 1965. PEER. Photo: FXP Photography.

View of “Jeremy Moon: Out of Nowhere,” 2016. From left: No. 3/73, 1973; English Rose, 1967; Out of Nowhere, 1965. PEER. Photo: FXP Photography.

Jeremy Moon

PEER/Large Glass

View of “Jeremy Moon: Out of Nowhere,” 2016. From left: No. 3/73, 1973; English Rose, 1967; Out of Nowhere, 1965. PEER. Photo: FXP Photography.

This two-part exhibition of works by Jeremy Moon, curated by the young, Glasgow-based artist Neil Clements, consisted of working sketches, studies, and archival material at Large Glass, while at PEER four of his paintings were accompanied by a slide show projected within a large sculpture by Clements. Having studied law and then worked briefly in advertising while maintaining an interest in classical ballet, Moon was inspired to turn to art after seeing the now-legendary “Situation” exhibition at the Royal Society of British Artists gallery in 1960. Aside from a few months at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, he was largely self-educated. As with many British artists of his generation, his work can be seen as a response to American abstraction—in Moon’s case, to Minimalist painting and in particular that of Frank Stella.

The four shaped canvases at PEER, dating from 1965 to 1973—the year of Moon’s death from a motorcycle accident at the age of thirty-nine—played with various forms: circles, triangles, an inverted Y, and an eccentric V-like shape. The selection emphasized Clements’s observation that the key quality in Moon’s art is instability, “something that worries at the edges of even his most static compositions,” refusing to provide the viewer “with ample enough information to read the paintings entirely as a three-dimensional object or as an illusionistic image.” That is, the depicted shapes (the painted forms) are in conflict or dialogue with the literal outline of the canvas, creating a sense of uncertainty. For example, Out of Nowhere, 1965, is a blue tondo with eleven circular perforations cut into its surface like the holes in a Swiss cheese, one of which crosses the rim of the structure itself. The white circles of supporting wall appear to float up and across the blue surface. That vacillation between literalness and illusion—holes in the surfaces or white circles on a blue ground?—is symptomatic of Moon’s work. Shadows, 1965, has a six-pointed shape like a Star of David while depicting one deep-green triangle with three smaller triangles in orange, salmon pink, and purple extending from each edge. At first, it could suggest one polygon inverted over another, but the colors of the smaller triangles contradict the logic of the overlap. Whereas the “deductive” rationale of the shape of a Stella canvas is determined by the depicted form and vice versa, Moon explores the illusionistic possibilities of each composition. Coupled with its objecthood, each work creates a moment of slippage, an instability that turns the glance into a gaze and encourages viewers to deepen their attention.

An incessant draftsman with a playful but meticulous approach, Moon covered magazines pages, exhibition announcements, and sheets of graph paper with small diagrammatic preparatory sketches and ideas for paintings and sculptures, as seen in the display at Large Glass. For example, the various permutations on graph paper for a 1967 series of inverted-Y paintings—one of which, English Rose, was on view at Peer—demonstrated his improvisatory process through color and design. Each painting’s striped pattern is determined by three notched points, creating bent, pink stripes like arrows pointing to the middle, like a Daniel Buren pattern seen through a kaleidoscope. The visual effect is a pulsing rhythm driving toward or emanating from the work’s center.

With his own painted-gray steel and aluminum sculpture, Didactic Sculpture: Middle Class Anglo Saxon, 2013/2016, the curator offered a further level of rhythm and play. Vaguely resembling an Anthony Caro sculpture of the 1960s, Clements’s piece turned a formal construct into something functional: A slide projector placed on one shelflike surface projected a sequential history of Moon’s paintings from 1964 through 1968, rephotographed from existing reproductions, on an opposite flat face. Moon is an underrated artist whose work still looks fresh and direct, and—as Clements’s sculptural homage suggested—he can still inspire artists born well after his untimely death.

Sherman Sam