These four artists are linked by friendship and a desire to create using paint.
However their intent and inspiration is divergent.
Their methods and processes are varied.
And their work pace differs.
The results of their individual focussed energies are rich and diverse.
The quality of skill and inventiveness within the group, coupled with the recent establishment of Colonnade House – Creative Hub to publicly showcase artists’ work, has prompted this exhibition.
The paintings in this show have been completed over the last three years and are a response – first to my decision not to accept any further commissions to produce the kind of work which had occupied me over the past 40 years, and secondly to try to bring together the very things about painting which had delighted me over that time.
They are all in their way a celebration of the appearance, texture, and colour of ordinary things; packing paper, coloured card, and other jetsam lying around the place, and painted with some degree of realism against the wall of my studio. A wall which carries the marks of many previous projects with its daubs, stumbles, scribbles, gummed paper and drips which provided a kind of palimpsest.
I find that the more I am absorbed in the rendering of these “tablescapes” the more surprised I am by the influences that creep in. The paint tubes, squeezed and dirty, had a character that I felt compelling: huddled, bent and sheltering against the corrugated wall, they took on the appearance of refugees.
More recent paintings are taking the form of collages, again with torn paper but now with fragments of remembered images of earlier forms of painting; from the 17th century Dutch still life to a Braque bird to a torn paper tree which could have come from English land scape painting.
I am unsure where this might lead but look forward to finding out.
David is primarily an abstract painter who uses his interest in landscape and the peculiarities of specific locations to inform his work. The images in this exhibition are a contemplation on the marginality of shorelines and estuaries with their horizontal delineations of air, water and land and the transient nature of weather, erosion and the detritus of tidelines. But, rather than depict these places topographically, he uses them to explore how such physicality and transience might be reflected through the qualities and colour of a painting’s surface.
It is this interest in surface qualities that has led him to use encaustic as his primary medium. It is a process that allows him to manipulate surfaces by incising and scraping away layers to reveal underpainting or by embedding discarded fragments from earlier work into a painting’s surface. These acts of burying and excavating, embedding and revealing offer painterly parallels to the way landscape contains evidence of its own formation.
David Rees Davies
The small paintings I’ve chosen for this group show are, for those who know my work, devoid of any of what has been seen as a trademark dark narrative. No gallows humour, no apparently tormented souls, no prisoners to fading memories; no sequential narratives that weave myth, location and incident. No teasing ambiguity in large scale imagery.
Instead, meditation in a different key. The bird studies began while recovering from a period of tabloid sensationalism and ugly internet troll backlash over a series of controversial portraits shown at a national arts festival.
The landscape studies as a determined effort get out, exercise and capture the glorious downland landscape in the fresh air while recovering from agonising sciatica.
These two cathartic activities were lifesavers. It was never my intention to show these pictures. They are what they are: little celebrations of life and nature at humble notebook scale; unfussy, unpretentious, immediate, unhurried – a direct documentation of the everyday, of the things I truly love and cherish: routine walks on favoured rambles around Sussex, that divine fortnight or so when the hawthorn blossoms; the evening summer light and shadows camouflaging a WW2 pill box, the flurry of lapwings over a sun-kissed meadow, a goldfinch perched on a teazle, damselflies skimming the Ouse, the calligraphic luminosity of those chalk paths.
Fortuitously, those two inspiring periods of respite have triggered a new departure in my work and are quietly finding their way into more complex, ambitious works.
Even though it was the third time in the week, I’d still been caught by surprise. Turning the corner I’d suddenly got full exposure. It was breathtaking and I was stunned by its drama. Large dark purply grey crumply masses hung low with vibrant fluorescent pink edging, tufts of fluffy rich pinks effortlessly floated and whispy strands of soft grey flew high. Numerous lines, some white and short, some tapering and others broad thinning peachy yellow wove and disappeared behind the different layers. All this in front of a blue that was deep and rich but fading to the west. It didn’t last long and as I stood there it transformed into a series of different colour compositions. Such events can be a source of inspiration.
The basic ingredients are more or less constant: air, light and water vapour. But there are agents of change which impact on the resultant sunset. The variation in temperature affecting the quantity of water vapour. The effect of wind on the shape of the clouds. The air quality and level of light affecting the colour and luminance. They generate an infinite variety of effect that can stimulate a vast range of responses. Surprise to indifference, exhilaration or just simple pleasure.
It’s this analogy, the idea that basic ingredients can be transformed into compositions of stunning drama, rich complexity or subtle simplicity by the processes used that engaged me.
So now when I paint I explore processes with basic ingredients to create a diverse range of effect. Not to recreate the impression or image of a sunset or to tell a story of what happened at sunset but to generate effects that, even using the familiar, may create the unexpected, cause surprise, exhilaration or simple pleasure.