Medium:Photography - ArtShot International DACS 2011 All rights researved
Hailesworth Festival Art Exhibition at The Cut, Halesworth
Zacron meets some great Suffolk Artists
Both the Halesworth Gallery and its more recent counterpart 'The Cut' have made a major contribution to the arts in Suffolk with many unsung heroes and heroines have dedicated so much of their lives to maintain these vital outlets for artists and the enrichment of culture in East Anglia.
The Arts Festival exhibition 2011 at the Cut maintained the high professional standards we have come to expect. One dedicated space is amidst the old warehouse structure, the other on the ground floor is also the cafeteria, it is after all a community arts facility pioneered by the ceaseless endeavour of the local people.
I was impressed that here was a collection of working art from full time artists who make their living from the sale of their work, no tourist trinkets here. John Kiki and Bruer Tidman have great stature, these are painters who must be given space in the Tate Modern along side their equals. Kiki is a twenty first century Van Gogh, he is much celebrated in East Anglia, London and New York but like Van Gogh he has suffered from intractable commercial dealerships that have the vitality of an estate agent at 5.0p.m. on a Friday night. Here is a man that has had to do it all, communications, marketing, exhibiting endlessly everywhere is down to him.
Both Kiki and Tidman constitute 'one-man-studio-factories' they are the real deal and deserve better recognition from the arts council, an annual grant would be a start!
Kiki's figures and environments, drawn with thick fluid paint, have carved a folk legend, cryptic and childlike, but don't be fooled as here you will find an extraordinary sophistication, brilliant colour and textiles trapped and encircled as islands of colour. The artist's paintings grab your eyes and don't let go until you have at least allowed your mind to give something back.
The paintings make a permanent impression like the glare of a light that hovers over everything else. Clever gimmicks are not a part of his language and I have watched him paint from 1964 at the Royal Academy Schools, that's nearly half a century of vintage Kiki!
Bruer Tidman's work is eclectic and he often returns to his figurative roots. It is as if he follows different journeys, elements of Toulouse Lautrec, Picasso,
Matisse and Rouault are detectable. The artist has grasped that the subject and the size of a work is not a virtue in its own right (a sticking point for many a lesser artist).
Tidman's voluptuous brush lines make a homage to the female form, while at the same time they have a life of their own. The process makes an earthy love for the female body, into a finely tuned cerebral process that is at its best, very spiritual. There is something Oriental in his single line celebrations. Its all in the act, the journey, the risk, the courage, generating creative heat when there is nothing but the ticking clock for company.
Tony Casement's abstract constructions are the very best I have seen by the artist. These works require a dedicated space and I found myself moving chairs that visually cluttered these disciplined structures. Casement has in the past used building materials as if to make an anti-aesthetic protest, to make something that is not tame or precious. Now with boxlike canvases, he includes the walls of the building, within interior interactive spaces.
The canvas together with their applied colour become a visually controlled unit, more self contained that the building it occupies. The works break any rules about what 'should' be possible, with canvas units supported on one side while being uneasily balanced on the other. Paintings that while being uncompromisingly part of a stark modern city, feel like monuments to ancient windows that have both their views and comfortable interiors removed, sentinels of a long lost species.
The landscape paintings of Alan Bennett carve a path in the mind, robust, lush, monumental, sculptural, a blast in my memory of the National Diploma paintings of the early sixties. It must be said that senior students who painted the landscape with a similar dedication where in a minority even then. Bennett is certainly dedicated, his pictures make a simplified language from the complexity of trees, roots and boulders. The structure of the tree becomes an all consuming monument, details of the location however unique, are made secondary in 'Dance of the Trees.' 'Fresh wind through Tycanol Wood' presents a panoramic composition that would render the fireplace second best! I waited for the wind but none came.
Trees that have struggled to thread their way skywards amidst huge stone outcrops, feel heavy. A gravity anchors the lower third of the composition while the illuminated canopy, rendered with a palette knife, makes pale textures between the dragon twists of boughs. I would like to introduce Annie Ovendon from the Brotherhood (Sisterhood) of the Ruralists to Alan, as their contrasting styles would cause a nutritious fission!
Helen Cockburn exhibits the ultimate in refined collage/paintings, 'Woodblossum' caused me to sniff the work in expectation of a scent. Here we have psychosomatic associations rendered with delicate colour tints, collaged pictograms within a minute grid to make a 'field' experience. I wondered what the ancient Sumerians would have made of Cockburns work.
'The Magic Pendulum' entranced me, I finally found it amidst the painterly entanglement of seeds, stones, string, wire and plant-forms, imbedded in the creamy biscuity surface.
This work would benefit from thinking expansively to give the minutiae a framework in which to live. Art forges its own originality from the artist's mental and physical language and does not have to be strived for. Make art because you have to, not for galleries!
Jo Hinks presents a range of jugs made from card, paper and acrylic. My hot tip would be to make them in ceramic as they would hold a high price. It is hard to forget Picasso's ceramic jugs transformed into owls, portraits, birds and fish. Well these works hold there own, lyrical, designed, fanciful, surprising and innovative, they made me want to touch them. I particularly liked 'Perpendicular decorated' and 'Small Hours' The first makes arcs and diagonal sweeps, a touch of Kadinsky and Braque, the second reminds me of a 1940's textile. It is worth noting that if Hinks worked on canvases with the same alacrity and verve, beyond the challenge of a sculptural motif, she would command some attention, no small challenge.
Michael Stennett's satirically comic figure are certainly festive and raise many smiles.
Beneath the surface of 'The Royal Couple' lies many questions concerning their uplifted hands and switched on smiles, the obligatory military splendour in contrast to a prescribed femininity. Part of an old-world control destined to save us or ruin us as our consciousness awakes. 'Queen Victoria hits Southwold' is innovative and eclectic in its construction. One wonders whether she swore in private and swigged from a bottle! Here we have work in the English tradition of Gilray, Rowlandson and Scarf, a plump rumbustious Queen destined to flatten the 1920's miniature deckchair the moment you leave the gallery!
Roger Hardy has migrated away from localised themes, his assembled sculptures have something of a higher order. I wanted to see them exhibited near to the eye level and with more space between them. When works are too close, lazy eyes don't look, they fudge and merge rather than focus. Hardy's birds and figures deserve monumental placing. The artist has a great sense of implied animation, giving human qualities to inanimate assembled fragments of wood and metal - a real delight! 'Planes Totem Pole' I particularly liked. Is it the construct of the 'Plane' American Natives, no, it is assembled from old carpenter's jack planes, some complete with handles. Hardy has very wittily carved and painted primitive designs and faces on the base of each tool, assembled to make a marvellous totem pole!
The opening of this wonderful exhibition on Sunday 9th October 2011 presented an
assembly of artists, their families, friends, musicians, writers, some had come from as far away as Spain. Such a cacophony of resplendent spirits seldom seen. An old hairy dog who new little of art, threaded his way through the throng, undisturbed, unnoticed but in a state of sweet delirium.
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