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Issue 216

Jeremy Moon Takes a Rectangle for a Walk

The last work by the artist leaves us in the company of painting’s favourite shape

BY Jamie Limond in EU Reviews , Reviews | 16 OCT 20

The rectangle is the big fact of painting: the shape with and within which its propositions tend to be made. On show at Glasgow’s A-M-G5, 15/73 (1973) – the last painting completed by Jeremy Moon before his untimely death – finds the artist nudging at the format. Made up of what look like four pieces of coloured card arranged in a neat pile, it’s a work that treads a playful line between being conventionally ‘rectangular’ and unconventionally shaped.

Jeremy Moon, 15/73, 1973
Jeremy Moon, 15/73, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 188 x 223 cm. Courtesy: © the Estate of Jeremy Moon and A-M-G5, Glasgow; photograph: Patrick Jameson

One of the few British painters of the 1960s to explore irregularly shaped canvases, Moon was equally preoccupied with the rectangle. Taking it as an invitation, he seems to have had a febrile sense of the rectangular frame as a miraculous thing, full of possibility. 15/73 inverts the conventions of rectilinear framing, presenting an emphatic, depth-defying blank surrounded by a discontinuous series of non-borders. Most of the angles are off – the orange ‘L’ noticeably thinner at the top; the green corner on the left not quite 90 degrees – as if the ‘cards’ haven’t quite settled. With a quick reshuffle, this game of pictorial ‘snap’ could continue indefinitely.

A series of visual thresholds, endings and beginnings, 15/73 in turn displays a thematic concern with the brinkmanship of dreaming-up and making, venturing. Hovering on the wall like an apparition, it nevertheless gives the impression of looking down at materials gathered and ready on a desktop. (The work is complemented by a vitrine-bound sample of Moon’s drawings and maquettes.) Flipping between table-top play and grand illusion, the painting is almost a return to Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s 18th-century portraits of solitary children absorbed in building simple playing-card castles. Though worlds apart in scale and approach, Moon’s ‘house of cards’ is a proposition equally enchanted by painting’s four-walled conceits: the world remade and remodelled through a precarious game of rectangles.

Main image: Jeremy Moon, Working Drawing, 1973, pencil and pastel on paper, 20 x 25 cm. Courtesy: © the Estate of Jeremy Moon and A-M-G5, Glasgow

‘JEREMY MOON, 15/73’ runs at A-M-G5, Glasgow, until 31 October 2020.

Jamie Limond is an artist and writer based in Glasgow.