There is something about using multiple images and poses in one portrait that I just adore! The pastel work by Jane Radstrom remind me of romantic double exposed photography. Focusing on the nuances and expression of body language Jane’s work shows a realistic portrayal of her girls. I like how she’s managed to capture a split second movement looking right into their soul…
Last year I featured my very first artist interview with the wonderful artist Malcolm Ryan, it was one of your favourite posts ever on Brogues In A Coffee Bar! After interviewing him about his beautiful work a friendship has blossomed and he has been kind enough to send me a sneak preview of some new work that he’s been working on… I just had to share!
Inspired by a recent trip to London Malcolm Ryan has captured the hustle and bustle of the city and yet manages to imbue a stillness to the scene, as if time has stopped in the most perfect moment. His work always give me shivers…
Can you guess what I am craving? The scrumptious art by American artist Will Cotton spans many disciplines from sculpture and painting to drawing. He creates surreal scenes from candy, cake and all things bad for your teeth. Will Cotton creates our desires, childhood memories and dreams. I just want to jump in to the scrummy cake towers.
Philip Harris’s work first confronts the viewer because of it’s scale, featured in REALITY: Modern and Contemporary Painting which I recently reviewed here, his work was in the first room of the exhibition and the large oil on linen painting ‘Arizona Bloom’ (2014) quite literally took my breath away…
Painted over the space of a decade ‘Arizona Bloom’ (above) is authoritative and stunningly detailed. It is as if Philip Harris has plonked him on the land and he doesn’t quite belong. The more you look at the man, the more grey and sandy landscape tints pink and red.
Philip Harris’s portraits are suspended in a dream like scene, the subjects are caught in a moment that is of great significance to the painter but the scene hides so many clues about what the encounter reveals. He leaves the viewer guessing. In ‘S.P. Behind A Glass Door’ (2001, below) a man appears trapped behind a glass door, the condensation from his breath forming on the glass. S.P, whoever that may be, addresses us directly and the multiple frames painted in the wide scene directs your eye straight to him. Is he the gardener? A builder? There is something that tells me he doesn’t belong in the prison he seems to be trapped in. What do you think?
See more of Philip Harris’s hyper real paintings on his website here.
Perhaps one of the best exhibition’s of contemporary painting that I have ever seen. I’d like to introduce to you REALITY: Modern & Contemporary Painting at The Sainsbury Centre. I feel privileged to live so close to this stunning museum that is linked to The University of East Anglia, the collections at The Sainsbury Centre represent some of the most remarkable works of art spanning an astonishing 5000 years of history. From ancient Greece and Roman artefacts to important works by Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti. However, in this new exhibition curated by Chris Stevens REALITY: Modern & Contemporary Paintings celebrates the strength of British painting from the past 60 years in an uncompromising and direct display of artwork from the small oil painting to larger than life canvases. Featuring an all British cast of artists such as: Bacon, Lowry, Lucian Freud, Stanley Spencer and David Hockney all of the artists exhibited in REALITY are committed to creating figurative work which tells a narrative. They have explored the world as they experience it and without dwelling too much on the clichéd stereotype of the starving artist each piece of work shows a harshness and truth to the world that is unsurprisingly quite uncomfortable to be confronted with. As it says in the exhibition catalogue, which is a stunning publication in it’s own right…
REALITY draws us towards the more gritty substance of both the everyday occurrences and strange imagines scenarios – each one of them leading us to an experience that is every bit real.
I love a bit of realism to shake off the cobwebs! The artist’s in REALITY have the amazing ability of detach from their subject matter whilst revealing it completely. They’ve stripped off the polish of how British life is portrayed and have given it back it’s actuality. I am sure most of us are aware of what it thought to be typically British… Tea, crumpets, bunting and cute summer fetes. However, what stands out most in REALITY is the artist’s sense of humour whilst they play with the reality of what it truly means to be British. I have to admit I won’t be featuring my favourite paintings (namely by artists Anthony Green, Phillip Harris and Clive Head) in this review – they deserve a post all to themselves, so instead I will talk about the true essence of the exhibition. Realism, fear, mortality and poverty.
One of the first pieces you’re confronted with in the entrance to REALITY is ‘Hopeless In Gaza’ by John Keane. Emerging from a larger project consisting of observations made when travelling through the occupied territories of Israel. He has used photography under painting to create a blurred effect, as if you are actually standing in the scene being shaken by the bombs. A boy is being shielded by the man, making it a harrowing image to look at. This sets the tone for the rest of the exhibition…
By far the most distressing painting for me shown in REALITY is the piece above by Carel Weight, titled ‘Fury’ (1961). In quite a large scale Carel Weight encapsulates a moment of childhood fear that everyone has been through. Whether the two boys pictured running have been caught in a mischievous act or not, they are painted running away from an enraged man wielding a club. As a police man approaches one lad stumbles in his escape. Doesn’t it evoke a feeling of humiliated panic? As well as showing Britain’s urban landscape in the early 60’s the scene is timeless, perhaps evoking those wayward childhood memories.
Another large painting on display which conjures up the British sense of humour is the piece below by Alan MacDonald. Painted only in 2013 ‘Spam Dragon’ (below) on the surface is strange. When one looks closer witty paraphernalia from modern life is juxtaposed with people and scenery from the past, perhaps the heyday of British painting. However, smoke ruins the distant landscape and there is that feeling that something is just not right.
And talking about the weird and wonderful, Ken Currie’s ‘Dirty King’ (below) certainly is a very uncomfortable painting to look at. Ken Currie has a nack of creating ethereal figures and ghostly scenes. You know the subjects are there and yet you question whether they are real people, there is a hazy glow around the apparition reflected in ‘Dirty King’. Is he bathing in luxury? Has he fallen from grace? The ‘Dirty King’ seems to be treading in something not very nice and his bald patch certainly reveals a grisly side to royalty. An overwhelming feeling of pity came to me when taking in this painting, followed by a unsettling ghostly feeling. Not something I would usually feature on Brogues In A Coffee Bar but certainly thought provoking…
The artists in REALITY tackle a diverse range of subjects, referencing the body, relationships, history, politics, war, the urban environment and social issues. Despite these different references, the works are all united by two things – the harsh realities that have concerned key British artists over the decades and the simple act of painting. It shows that painting, as an art form is not dead there are so many comments now-a-days about art schools not specialising in painting but REALITY: Modern & Contemporary Painting really is a stunning exhibition.
Tickets are just £8 so there is no excuse to not miss it! Buy them here and find out more about The Sainsbury Centre on their website. I will be writing in depth about my other favourite artists featured here so keep checking back for more.
Exploring the idea of escape, tranquility and nostalgia for lazy summer days and childhood, Samantha French’s underwater paintings are truly magical. They remind me of a photo once taken of my brother underwater at a Florida theme park, I love the colours in her work and having personally found water extremely difficult to paint, French has the light and reflections just right. Her work is fun, bright and bold. Original oil’s range from $8,000 upwards. However, you can also buy prints of selected pieces on her Etsy store – small size from $26 and limited edition large format (24″ x 31″) for £550… I want one!
Bec Winnel is an accomplished Australian illustrator and artist, her stunning portraiture combines the precision of a graphic artist with the emotiveness of a painter. She uses mixed media, from pastel, watercolour, coloured pencil and paper cuts to create soft, ethereal portraits of dream like women. She uses beautiful models to show us the romanticism and haunting feeling of femininity. Often with a pastel colour palette her girls are soft, hazy and hyperreal…
Her original pieces range from $300 (AUS Dollers) and you can also buy her prints from $40.
It doesn’t happen very often but I recently discovered an image that literally made me stop in my tracks and actually gave me a shiver. The painting was ‘Falling Snow At Night’ by Malcolm Ryan (see below). Having painted and been creative since childhood he lived around Cambridge (although now based in Wales) and regularly visits my area of the woods. Malcolm paints the everyday domestic scene beautifully, I was entranced by the incredible colour and use of light. His work is magical and evokes lost memories using scenes that so often pass us by. Maybe we should all take a leaf out of his book and just stop and look at the beauty of life. See what he has to say about his painting below…
What is your painting about? My paintings are I regard, an attempt to record life about me. I have chosen painting principally as I have always had the facility, and photography is less expressive.
What is it about the everyday experience that’s makes them special enough to paint? The everyday experience is special. In the sense that we live only in the moment and should be aware of the moment. Without launching into Buddhist philosophy, my take on painting is to try to paint a moment, something seemingly ordinary to us. Viewing a painting is a form of contemplation, holy yet ordinary and familiar at the same time. Hence my realist style to make the picture accessible to as many as possible. Carefully planned compositions and colouring is all important to create a sense stillness, but I must stop here.
Where do you exhibit/sell your work? At present I show my work regularly at the Royal Cambrian Academy at their galleries in Conwy in North Wales. My motives for painting are not really commercial, although I tried to support my family on my work years ago. I would like my work to be seen in public places, be part of the times we live in.
When & why did you start painting? I started painting as a small child, as we all do, but kept at it when others moved on. It was my only obvious skill right from infancy. Serious painting began in my early 20’s. I worked as an illustrator all of my working life, skilled, as a session musician might be, but obliged to do what was asked by any who paid me. Yet in tandem, in a separate world always engaged with my paintings.
Who are the people you paint? The people that I paint are family and friends generally. However, I look for the right person to fill the role needed in a painting, rather as a casting director would for an actor in a play. Sometimes I include someone now dead, if I have a photo or reference drawing of them. A wish to include them, as some sort of tribute to their memory – It helps to keep them here, those I loved and liked.
The light in your work is very romantic, do you paint from real life and/or photographs? I paint from life, from photos (especially details of dress, buildings and so on) and from the imagination. Most of my paintings are generated from seen places and people in the streets,then worked up into compositions which if taken further are done as full size drawings on greaseproof paper. Hardly ever is the setting how I imagine it ought to be. So much is invented, or made up from several sources to achieve the right result.
Tell me about yourself and your daily routine… I am 76. Now living on the coast of West Wales overlooking the sea. A great grandfather, sharing the house with four generations of us until this week, when our grand daughter and family moved out to live four miles away. My wife Maureen and I have the upper floors. I have an attic studio and a large collection of paintings; nearly all my own! I paint all of the time in theory but am interrupted by the tasks of daily life and duties to be done.
Who are your main artist influences? My constant admiration has been for the work of Piero della Francesca, Georges Seurat, George de la Tour. All painters of monumental work that I aspire too. A host of other influences would include Balthus, for making subject painting permissable in the late 1960s to me, when abstract painting seemed de rigueur. Manet and Renoir for the everyday subject of people, and Edward Hopper for his settings of urban life. So many others too.