Paperback: 44 pages
Publisher: Four Square Fine Arts (2008)
Texts by: Julian Bell, Dr Sue Roe
ISBN-10: 0956013619 ISBN-13: 978-0956013613
Dimensions: 23 x 23 x 0.5 cm
Price: £15.00
Available from Four Square Fine Arts

Possible Worlds

Marco Crivello’s work is elemental, arresting, muscular, incorporating a layering and over lapping of elements and a porous geology of paint. What fascinates is the technical ingenuity which enables him to be both establishing paint as elemental and at the same time introducing a composition which comments on landscape – the work exists both as product of and in connection with our material world of land, sea and weather. In a sense, his new works are like jewels – intrinsically beautiful, polished objects separated from the land and materials that produced them; decorative, abstract surfaces. But the eye is drawn above, beneath and across those surfaces, dispersing attention to rhythms that promise to come to rest only beyond the frame. On first viewing landscapes that establish tension, cacophony and control, on second glance they are radiant as jewels and drenched with beauty, the result of accretion, spumato and sedimentation and sometimes irradiated with gold. The evidence of process remains in the work and is part of its living rawness. The play of substance on substance, the corrosion and layering of materials are played out throughout Crivello’s processes of composition and are still evident in the finished works, so that built into the eventual stylistic polish is a rhythmically dynamic rawness, creating new potential for extension and endless, unforeseeable possibility.

Over The Rim of The World

Other-worldly light irradiates a golden geology, as vaporous blue darkens over the land. White, pooled just short of the land’s edge, makes this an evocative, gentle, suggestive landscape, echoed in a sweep of vapour rushing towards the light source. Moody, prowling, here land is swept around with air which infuses the work with circular, kinetic energy. This painting articulates an aspect of the artist’s work – the search for light – which goes on moving and changing, establishing correspondences, under going metamorphoses, announcing subtle, articulated radiance.

Tableau; Between Blues

During the making of the work formations have radically broken up, new forms being asser ted in the process. This painting underwent a significant metamorphosis, becoming much rawer in the making, with a stronger sense that divisions between strata were being firmly established. More land-like in texture, at the same time it seemed to be moving inexorably towards greater abstraction, as if anything representational would limit its gestures. Something was beginning to emerge in the process, but then seemed to be being submerged again; the painting seemed to be folding in on itself. But then something unpredicted happened and the painting underwent a radical transformation. With blue pitching into yet deeper registers, a strong, jagged for m which had begun to surface mellowed, becoming softer, more fluid, receding outwards and up towards the light source. Blue itself, revelling in the beauty of pure colour, deepened in tone in both the higher and lower recesses of the picture, and that incidental jagged for m, in earlier stages articulated as an interruption, mellowed into abstract gesture and now unfurls, with great beauty and subtlety, towards the light.

Happenstance; Possible Worlds

In a dreamy meditation on possible geologies blue is established but also broken up, as colour seems to be flooding in from both above and below – an inky, dense blue, deeply resonant, which is being pushed to the rim of the painting and beyond. At the same time, at the centre of the painting a gentle fragmentation of landscape is taking place, a further breaking of for ms, as if to enable the meandering introduction of vaporous cloud which will bathe the landscape in misty vapour. Landscape itself seems subject to ethereal forces of paradoxical light as air gather s in the foreground, passing through the central, earthed line of the painting, where it pauses before passing beyond. As it passes, it deepens in tone and texture graduating from essence into pure, resonant colour.

Mining; The Magma of Instinct

Plangent colour announces the perception of depths to be plumbed or mined. Colour has gathered momentum, folding into its own depths fathoms of intensity, impacting on for ms so magnetically that amber tones establish the deepest under tow of the painting, rolling paint around ponderous gestural activity. Coming in like the start of a hurricane or tidal wave, darkness unfurls from the left to the right of the picture, catching large slabs of light as it prowls across, drawing the eye upwards towards a turbulent, changing sky and an eerie yellow light, then downwards again to follow the movement of this dense force of colour, about to tip down into a large, war m area of complementary burgundy. Contrasts between burgundy and yellow are perplexing but at the same time enticing, almost hypnotic, as light spills down in sharp, electric passages, then fades again. What is beyond the frame becomes utterly enticing, as the eye is plummeted down then drawn up again through fathoms of colour, then beyond colour towards passages of light, and the search for further reaches may even be the point of this dramatic work, as its tensions sweep the eye up, down and even deeper into a moody, seemingly endless passage of transfixing purple.

Arctic Melt

Glacial elements resembling snow or frost reflect and absorb light in melt-down. This painting pulsates with a gentle but energetic rhythm which establishes sheer radiance and maintains its subtle forces across the canvas, both in areas of flurried activity and out towards a calmer atmosphere. In a fascinating turbulence towards the base of the picture, vaporous blue entices the eye and paint is pushed upwards. This area of disturbance establishes a moment of extraordinary activity, even commotion, then the eye is first drawn towards a pool of rippling calm and onwards to oblivion, then enticed upwards again by the cessation of activity, through this line of turbulence and beyond, up towards the horizon line which is not the source of tension, rather, it establishes an area of further calm with the introduction of some soothing complementary yellow being stretched across the picture plane. Beyond the horizon there is a further concentration of yellow light, which pulls the viewer onwards and upwards towards a calm area of rest and infinity. The eye, thus now elaborately soothed, is drawn up beyond the frame, or back down again, irresistibly, towards that enticing gestural activity, suggestive of a wave about to break, encapsulating kinetic activity within a complex surge of movement not only forwards but also diagonally, downwards and upwards as the eye comes to rest again in a pool of gentle water, irradiated with gently sparkling inflections of vaporous light.

Herald; Delphic Ember

The central event – a visceral, primordial gesture – has set the painting’s geology on fire, lighting up all the immediate areas with its writhing kinetic activity. Here, light is aflame with fiery gestural activity, taking its cue from that area of vigorous movement. Reds and oranges take their tones from the most strongly lit element of this insistent plastic form, reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s gestures. To the right of the painting is a strange unpeeling, where paint seems to be tearing itself from the board, a hinting reference to more Surrealist activity. The writhing figure in the centre keeps the colour s of ear th and fire bound earthwards; the air that rises up is thick, smoky as after fire, breaking up into a blue that seems heated by what is occurring beneath, taking its viscous, tactile quality from that writhing, scorching figure. The energy of this painting is supernatural, this is not a fire, rather, a compelling study of vigorous movement in counterbalance with colour. Flat swathes of pure heat announce the most primordial activity within this exhibition, a strongly viscer al element which seems to herald radically new possibilities.

This exhibition announces a number of new, exciting directions. Where in earlier works by Crivello there was an emphasis on compression, an intense focus on and testing of the line of the horizon, now paint exerts pressure on line, so that it has buckled and widened, enabling the artist to explore what happens when line begins to gape, pushing the materials of paint more deeply into the recesses of a painting and extending its reach towards the outer edges. This testing of the limits of for m has enabled the introduction of unforeseen correspondences and a more far-reaching kinetic energy, establishing a new mood across the range of works.

In the process of re-working, small inflections have established counterbalances with larger gestures, identifying tricky and fascinating areas of counter-rhythm which, inturn, have enabled radical changes to for m and tone. In some paintings new events presented themselves as the artist worked, setting challenges to what might have been thought of as sky or earth, establishing more abstract, otherworldly or even hintingly Surreal gestures. In my early visits to the studio I saw the rhythmical inter action of energies being challenged in every work, and an emphasis on discovering how gesture would extend into depth and on what would happen to surface in the process. The finished works draw the eye more strongly through what Crivello has called ‘the filter of abstraction’. In all the works shown here, elements have been driven onwards in the process of composition, pushed beyond initial ideas into an ever deeper and more compelling engagement with the connecting materials of the geology of the world and of the artist’s imagination – the realm Shelley likened to a burning coal, ‘which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness.’

Sue Roe, March – July 2008

Sue Roe is a critic and author of The private Lives of the Impressionists and Gwen John: A Life  (Chatto & Windus)

Paperback: 44 pages
Publisher: Four Square Fine Arts (2010)
Texts by: Interview by Mark Halliley
ISBN-13: 978-0-9560136-1-3 
Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 0.5 cm
Price: £10.00
Available from Four Square Fine Arts

What strange objects these paintings of Marco Crivello's are. Each stands there on the gallery wall weathered and burnished, self-contained and almost immaculate, like some natural curio - a glistening pebble, a whorled shell - brought in from a ramble in the wild. To the outsider to the Crivello studio, each lustrous surface has an air of inevitability: you no more feel like criticizing the processes that brought it into being than you would wish to quarrel with geology, or biological growth. And yet of course this is not nature, but a set of imaginative adventures, driven forward by forceful, expressive markmaking. Taking them all together, you encounter a mind hard at work, criticizing and challenging itself - in short, an artist of vigorous ambition.

It's an unusual aesthetic, this marriage of fastidious finish with high drama, of buffings and gildings with jagged, unruly gouts of oils. The sheer fine tuning of Crivello's work, with its serene colour harmonies, is faintly eccentric when set against the mainstream values of contemporary painting. The primal image of his paintings was for a long while an horizon line. Weights of paint gathered and brooded around that minimal division of the picture's rectangular field, storms waiting to happen. Over the last couple of years, however, those forces above and below have been literally set spinning as Crivello has made roundels his chief format. Metaphorical hurricanes and archipelagos have welled up within the new confines, and the pictures have changed in stature. What confronts us is no longer an incident within a field but a brimming totality - an imaginary planet, a 'world' as the exhibition title puts it. The move to a more challenging format coincided with an expansion of Crivello's formerly steel-cold palette, which now reaches through maroons and russets to a deep fiery heat. 

Always, the question for Crivello has been how new events are to emerge. Are we to force them to appear before us, or simply to invite them in? Talking over his repertory of techniques, he remarked to me that 'it is not a matter of applying paint, but of loosing up possibilities.' If the product has a life of its own, that is because the process was not purely wilful: pigments, binders, brushes and sheer chance were speaking up for themselves. Sometimes what they have to say seems to fall in with the landscape tradition of Turner. But in the most radical recent stages of this voyage of exploration, the internal dynamics of Crivello's handiwork have wrenched his pictures free of any familiar format. His worlds are becoming irregular asteroids. The outbound journey is getting bumpier, more dangerous, more exciting.

 Julian Bell, July 2010

Artist, critic and author of Mirror of the World – A New History of Art (Thames & Hudson)


Marco Crivello is an exciting painter now making his mark. What I like particularly about his work is the tension it sets up between abstraction and representation – creating an open world for the imagination. His work reveals a sensitive appreciation of the recesses of nature, and yet, at the same time, he allows himself the creative freedom to follow the invitation of the paint and the specific brush stroke as it meets the surface. The outcome is an artistic synthesis, which speaks directly to us and resonates with an unmistakable spiritual ring.

Peter Abbs is Professor of Creative Writing at Sussex University and Poetry editor of  Resurgence  magazine. 

The shoreline is as far as the body can go, the horizon as far as the eye, but the mind overruns both. Limits only prompt it to dream harder: it yearns to be out there, where light breaks the clouds that hang over unseen stretches of sea. This kind of stimulus is basic to Marco Crivello’s paintings. Their tones are deep, their weather bracingly wintry. They are romantic invitations into the gleaming distance, painted by a believer in the imagination.


Strangely, at the same time they are quite clearly flat decorative objects. Their surfaces offer a variety of varnished, burnished, fine-grained textures. For all the chill of the palette they give out a sensual warmth, as much through the tenderness of the paint handling as through the use of underlays of gold. It is as if the eye were ruffling fine fabrics. An exacting standard of craftsmanship is everywhere apparent. The horizon, often the only firm line, runs parallel to the picture edge: the pictures would sit happily in the most minimalist of environments.


Crivello’s subtle and increasingly complex art has gathered force around the line. In his hands the horizon becomes a seam, in both senses – at once the join between two expanses, and a vein of riches to be mined. For mathematicians a line can be a pure idea, but for painters it must always be a material fact. With overlays, maskings, mistings and brushstrokes, he focuses on this fact. Within his high technical specifications, he encourages accidents to inflect it. Small chance shifts of paint suggest whole new areas of feeling. They stir up possibilities above and below, whether in the skies or down at the picture’s base, this side of the water’s brink.


Here an alternative source of riches may come into focus. In paintings like Remains of the Day, the seam of imaginative stimulus in the distance is counterbalanced by a curling nugget that seems to stand for being right there. A centre of personal gravity enters the picture. Minimalism guardedly opens its fist and in the recent Glitter and Glower a turbid diagonal drama tumbles out. But the hints of revelation remain teasing and equivocal. The actual gold lurking in the seams and  nuggets of Crivello’s paintwork reflects back the light of the room around the picture, cancelling any sense of depth. In Out of the Blue an abrupt vertical stripe puts paid to the illusion of the horizon – it becomes just another picture edge.


This is a fastidious and thoughtful game, played by a masterly technician. It shares its beach with other gazers such as Caspar David Friedrich and Turner, though of course Crivello’s vision of the horizon, unlike theirs, has nothing to do with plein air sketching. He belongs to a generation working after abstraction, looking up to the lofty portals opened by the likes of Rothko but more knowingly reconciled to a familiar visual experience. Among this generation, he stands out by the warmth, delicacy and pleasurability of his handiwork.


Julian Bell  author of ‘What is Painting; Representation and Modern Art ‘by Thames &Hudson.