I want to look again at ourselves and the world around us. In the distraction of sound bites and narrow labels, the rich variety and beauty of humanity is lost. We satisfy ourselves with idealised and airbrushed images that lose the vibrancy of the particular. The discipline of painting beyond the common denominator of what is known, to the ambiguity of what might be, brings us back to ourselves.
Heatherley’s School of Art (Diploma in Portraiture)
West Dean College
Diebenkorn is one of my main enthusiasms, his work was heavily oriented to the beauty of the visual experience around him in all the places that he lived and worked, ranging from his mainly exceptional cityscapes to the masterful ocean park series. His paintings are also highly constructed to be compositionally interesting and engaging.
No-one can be unmoved by the beauty of Monet’s Lily pond paintings in Musee de l’Orangerie. The joy he obviously found looking into the still water of his home pond. What struck me most about these almost entirely abstract images is how clearly they lead into the work of the abstract expressionists. In particular the way that depth is created with colours and composition, rather than perspective, is very reminiscent of Mark Rothko’s work.
Among my other strong influences are:
Lee Krasner whose works are intense, vibrant and very strongly composed. They explode with intensity. While she has gained in recognition, for me, she deserved more interest than her better known husband, Jackson Pollock.
Gillian Ayres is one of the UK’s best abstract painters, she has taken her own path and her paintings have an emotional and glittering intensity that in some ways mirrors the general intensity of the visualscape.
Hans Hofmann was an extremely prolific abstract painter, his approach to using shapes and colours was specifically intended to create a visual vibrancy in the space, a coming and going that creates a sense of energy that mirrors life.
David Bomberg, was another vibrant painter of abstracts, landscapes and people. Whilst not so well known in his own right, he was a leader in painting style that one could argue led to the approaches of my 3 favourite painters of people: Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville and Tai-Shan Schierenberg. All have sufficient vibrancy in their paintings that the people have some sense of life, rather than the usual plastic doll similarity of many other portrait painters.
The French painter Didier Paquignon draws and paints with an intensity of composition and mark making that creates a sense of the real vibrancy of being.
Many expert painters from the Renaissance period also interest me greatly, mostly due to the intensity of composition. Artemisia Gentileschi stands out - take a look at Judith Slaying Holofernes.