Critique by L.C. Russell

Abstract watercolor on handmade paper

Cantabile – Abstract watercolor on handmade paper

I’ve never really understood the charm of Abstract Expressionism until I saw Toby Malek’s watercolors. I’m particularly fond of these paintings. I like to call them the “Sound and Motion” series. If music is emotion given a beat then this series is music given visual shape. Imagine if you will taking music and making it visible to the eye. That’s what Mr. Malek has done with these paintings and he‘s done it beautifully.

Adagio from the Italian ad agio, means ‘at ease’. A musical composition marked to be played adagio is meant to be played languidly. This painting illustrates what Adagio is wonderfully. It’s a soft almost dreamy melding of color and motion. Each color fading into the other with a smooth easy fluidity. It’s a very sensual piece , rich in tone and punctuated with glimpses of the paper. This painting is very much at ease.

Sombre Melody - Abstract watercolor on handmade paper.

Sombre Melody – Abstract watercolour on handmade paper.

A sharp contrast to Adagio is Allegro. The colours are bold, the strokes sure. Staccato slashes of viridian against hearty blobs of yellow and red. It’s vibrant and sprightly. A city street on a spring day seen through rain fogged glass. There’s a life and visceral quality to the painting that pulls one in.

Cantabile, like it’s musical counterpart imitates the human voice. It’s loud and forceful use of crimson brings to mind passion and anger. The painting practically yells for you to pay attention to it.

Counterpoint is a study of contrasts. Staccato slashes and blurs of cyan accented with strong beats of alizarin. It’s drumming made visible.

Like the rest of Toby Malek’s art these paintings all have a very organic feel to them. They grow from their canvases and have personality. Each one has it’s own story ranging from whimsical to sad.

Allegro - Watercolor abstract on paper in shades of green and yellow accented with red.

Allegro – Watercolour abstract on paper in shades of green and yellow accented with red.

Elegy is dark, almost morose. The paint laments it’s way across the paper almost weeping in deep blues and purples. Forte is a lively contrast of darkness and vibrancy. The colors contrast sharply. The strokes are bold and sure. It’s a very brash piece. Somber Melody is subdued and soft. It’s not a lament but it’s known sadness intimately. If it were played it would be a single alto saxophone.

Like music, these paintings capture human emotions and play them back for you to experience. The colours borrow from life. They’re alternately rich, brash, tender, bright, dark joyful and mournful. They have a beat to them that you could dance to if you could just listen closely enough to hear it.

Gavotte - Abstract watercolor painting.

Gavotte – Abstract watercolour painting.

Tritone - Abstract expression painting. Watercolor technique.

Tritone – Abstract expression painting. Watercolour technique.

Watercolor abstract on paper in greens, blue and orange.

Watercolour abstract on paper in greens, blue and orange.

Elegy - Abstract watercolor on handmade paper.

Elegy – Abstract watercolour on handmade paper.

Elegy 2 - Abstract watercolor on handmade paper.

Elegy 2 – Abstract watercolour on handmade paper.

Counterpoint - Watercolor on handmade paper, abstract expressionist.

Counterpoint – Watercolour on handmade paper, abstract expressionist.