Uneven Territories is an exhibition of new and previously unseen paintings and drawings that, alongside key work made since 2006, forms an uncensored view of Michael Calver’s output. The work is at turns intimate, highly formal and sometimes unsettling.

Best known for his exploration of colour and its aesthetics through ‘colour field’ painting, this exhibition delves beneath the surface, presenting a new vision of Calver’s varied but interconnected artistic production.

Alongside his signature work there are recent paintings that relate to our manner of seeing: how we see and what we see, combining geometric abstraction with a loose figuration, reminiscent of cityscapes that exist at the periphery of vision. This is juxtaposed by a series of spontaneous drawings that depict scabrous figurative images, suggesting illicit encounters and the darker side of human existence.

The exhibition also includes ‘Letters to America’, small works on paper that the artist posted to his daughter, between 2011 And 2014. This personal correspondence, which was not made for the purpose of exhibition, creates a bridge between the drawings and paintings and gives an insight into Calver’s unique vision of the world.


18 October – 9 November 2015

OSR Project Space, Church Street, West Coker, Somerset

Uneven Territories - 2015

Film produced by Relay Studio

Michael Calver

Born 1942 in Kent, Michael Calver lives and works in Devon. He has exhibited widely, both in the UK and, also, internationally in Japan and the Middle East. Calver has received several Arts Council England awards and a significant Support Grant from the Pollock Krasner Foundation in New York.


Jason Miller – This place might be a shit-hole, but here’s joy and paint

I felt drawn to see Michael’s work from the publicity and I’m glad I did, there’s something rejuvenating about getting out and seeing what’s on.  I thought the show was smart, the white cube (referred to the ‘grope box’) in the middle dividing the physical space and acting as something of an implied sub-conscious really worked.  At first I assumed it to be an overview of a long career, but then realised these were all relatively recent concerns.

What strikes me is Michael’s willingness to look once and then keep looking at things that many of us judge quickly and don’t give a second glance toward.  His work had me re-framing my own assumptions, tastes and predilections and looking further into his images for possible readings and trying to extend my view to meet his.  I have been quite preoccupied with the niggling koan-like qualities of the show and have to settle with the ranging possibilities and paradoxes which, I guess, is what sustains its impact?  Here’s unrestrained couture pink restrained in right angles.  Here’s dead on bulls-eye black glistering with a reflected light on closer inspection.  Here’s a square orange.  Opera’s Bones is initially a black painting with colour sidelined.  Then the eye settles and it becomes a close tonal study of black and brown with a fugitive light flaring where lines meet and a square softly modulating into something less graspable.  A mutating rational form, it’s hard edges suddenly in flow with a chiaroscuro effect that could be over looked with a cursory viewing.  It’s this restless dis-satisfaction that is so satisfying, the paintings are all facts, none of which can be ultimately proven.  The openness to possibility and multiple reading generates potential trouble, but I love Michael’s clear, steady eye and what appears to be an innate ability to hold his nerve.

With Too Red To Die is that a square, is that the same colour. Yes and No. Depends how you see it. How do you feel about that?

Thaw. Is that a glacier, what is that structure, what’s happening there? Is that the interior or a reflection of something unseen? The light is beautiful, but is it real, is that shadow?

Here’s a loose, painterly cityscape of implacable facades and bland brutalist offices, here’s a modernist interjection, hard edged, and here’s a soft edged one too, here’s an incongruous reflection and here’s beautifully rendered daylight throughout.  This place might be a shit-hole, but here’s joy and paint.  Is this about nature shrinking and the failures and beauties of modernism?  Is this an anomaly glimpsed and remembered?  I love it.

Jason Miller is an artist based in Poole, Dorset. You can see an exhibition of his ‘New Paintings & Sculpture’ from 25th January – 15th March 2015  at The Lighthouse in Poole