My admiration for Graham Mileson's art, and my friendship with this very
gifted man, goes back now nearly 20 years. As I believe he himself will
testify, he subscribes to the notion that in principle the medium is
superior to whatever it figures. It is as if you can't make awful art
with the benefit of the best art materials. He also believes in 'pure
art' and what matters is the degree of passion that the individual
artist brings to the striving towards this ideal.

In Mileson's case, a credit card blade, instead of conventional brush
and palette knife, is called into pursuit of the push and pull of a
personal vision where clumsiness is a precondition of eloquence in a
kind of climatic fury that depends on the sudden spark of fulfilled
creativity. Working within already established parameters, his search
is constrained by the four edges of the flat field. This in itself
forces centralising the marks on the surface, malleable and porous, at
the inception opening and closing the face of the paint dragged up and
down and back and forth until it settles down flatly. But interference
colour doesn't settle, always moves, influenced, whether in daylight or
artificial light. This is a given in the paint material itself, along
with Mileson's excitement and fascination with the chemistry of this new

There was a time in our work when he and I seemed always to bump into
each other, to make roughly the same discoveries while painting: the
flat geometric signs simply flood the canvas area, the paint surfaces
stacked there, tumbling, overlapping, breaking clear, as in the work of
the Russian Paris-based, Slade School-trained painter Serge Poliakoff as
well as another Parisian Nicholas de Stael. But the edges of Mileson's
pieces continued to be a problem to me, especially after looking hard at
School of Paris artists such as the likes of Jean Fautrier and Vieira da
Sylvia and later Matter Painting coming from continental Europe.
A few years ago we travelled to Bristol to see an exhibition at the
Arnolfini Gallery of the leader of the Cobra movement Karel Appel. This
group was once described as the exponents of colour by a prominent
socialist art critic 'in the midst of Darkness' during the Cold War.
Colour in Cobra took on a special intensity: anger, desire and
simplicity, it was said. Our chiliastic bonding was first fractured
after his visit to the United States and the Triangle Workshop in
upstate New York in the summer of 1991, but we didn't know that during
this time he had discovered interference colour manufactured by Golden

In a proselytising work called The New New Painting by Dr Kenworth W.
Moffett, published in 1992, Dr Moffett makes great claims for a group of
artists using Golden products with the manufacturer working along with
the artists developing new materials. What Dr Moffett says is that,
because of these new discoveries, he can discern something new and
original in the quality of work by these American practitioners.

Working in the front of the Kentish landscape observed from his breeze
block barn turned studio, Mileson is virtually painting out of doors and
admits to the influence of the ever-changing light and view on his
pieces. It is then that he uses these new Golden materials in a very
different way. Before going to the United States, he used dry powder
colour and water-based industrial paints and made his own gel, topped up
with products from Spectrum Artist's Colours, the firm producing
water-based artist's colours in the south of England. Standing in front
of the stretched canvas on the purpose-built wall, his paint is thinly
scraped on the surface with the revolutionary tool of the credit card,
revealing the runaway glamour and beauty of the interference colour.
Mileson has found a way of dealing with the edges, which was never for
him a problem, by simply un-stretching and re-stretching the works,
which he does automatically as part of his working practice, thereby
adjusting the image as he goes, before and during the next round of

Moffet's mob might be NEW NEW, but Mileson is miles ahead.

Frank Bowling
Summer 2002