New Malvern Theatres Exhibition - August 22 - October 8th 2016

by Humph Hack 21. August 2016 14:51

What makes artists want to paint? From the earliest age toddlers are fascinated by making marks. It is the most natural of all childhood activities, and their interest is spurred by the rest of the extended family applauding their crude attempts at representing Mum, Dad or themselves. Everybody does art in school, but for most people, the activity stops when they leave education. But for some, it becomes a need which drives them to practice their art further. It may be via a full-time degree course, part-time study or just a gritty determination via self-study: whichever way – they have a need to make people sit up and take notice.

Which is why there is always a queue of artists wanting to exhibit in Malvern Theatres and why artists offered the opportunity to exhibit in this busy artistic hub, need no special encouragement.

It is a pleasure to show the public their fresh new art, rather than it be hidden in a loft, a spare bedroom or stacked in the corner of a studio. And, so often, when the hanging is finished, they express delight to see their works displayed so well. The 3 artists showing their works in this new exhibition are a case in point.

Ray Hill works in a very popular genre. Many artists produce works which evoke the landscape in an almost totally abstract manner. What separates Ray’s works, is the degree of refinement to which he has taken his canvases; inspired partly by the Catalonian landscape, where he spent several months after finishing his degree, and by the area around his studio in Gloucestershire, where it’s “big” skies inspire him.

Initially, you might think that Sheila Vicker’s paintings are mere realistic representations of landscape, animals and the people she loves, but it is the richness of her palette and exciting technique which lift them above mere records of places or events. Whenever and wherever possible the process begins outdoors in the landscape. The open air gives her the freedom to experiment with style and colour.

Banu Tillman’s canvases could not be more different. She is both an artist and illustrator. In the works on show here, she evokes a time when her female subjects were suitably aloof. They exhibit grace and ultimate composure. Her portrait and figurative paintings tell a story or convey an emotion with body language. They could be heading for a night out, or a night in, but either way, they do it with style.

The exhibition is open every day from Monday 22nd August until Saturday 8th October.

At a time when money in the Bank earns little or no interest. Do something to help revitalise the economy. Spend some money – Buy a painting (or 2). 


What Is 'Fauvism'?

by Aileen Mitchell 17. August 2016 12:00

The Turning Road, L'Estaque – Andre Derain

Fauvism is one of the most influential styles in contemporary art, whether today's artists are fully aware of it or not. The 'wild beasts' of Fauvism radicalised colour and form, and inspired the next generation of young artists to engage with their surroundings on a whole new level, changing art forever.

Last month we looked at the trailer for the new film, Loving Vincent. It's from the legacy of Van Gogh that the story of Fauvism begins …

Starry Night – van Gogh

French artist Henri Matisse is considered the founding father of Fauvism. Inspired by Van Gogh's post-impressionist style of intensifying colours and distorting forms to create images fraught with emotion, Matisse began to use colour on a very emotional level. The results of this were bright, multi-coloured paintings and scratchy brush stroked figures.

In complete contrast to the pastel coloured impressionist paintings from the 1800s – 1900s, Matisse would use paint straight from the tube without mixing them, and combine cold and warm palettes in the same work.

The concept behind creating these daring new paintings was to not paint the scene before them as realistically as possible, but to interpret how the scene was conceived in the mind. Matisse didn't choose colours based on what looked technically correct, but based his palette on the feelings and emotions he had whilst painting a particular 'experience' rather than 'scene'.

The first time Matisse's colourful works were displayed, a respected art critic exclaimed that the one renaissance sculpture in the exhibition was surrounded by work created by 'wild beasts' (les fauves). Although this comment was intended to be highly damming, Matisse and his fellow artists in this new style decided to take this as inspiration for the title of the new movement they had created, Fauvism.

The Green Stripe – Henri Matisse

One of the most famous works created during this movement was the portrait of Amelie Matisse – wife of Henri Matisse, called Green Stripe, carrying the famous green stripe down the middle of her face.

Dividing the face into two shades is a conventional portrait technique – usually used to divide the face between light and shade – but Matisse chose to use the line as a divide between cool and warm tones.

This bold new move was analysed in many different ways – some said the green stripe was for jealousy, others said it divided the painting into purity and serenity. The most likely reason, however, is none of these. Matisse was not called a wild beast for nothing. Art was now beyond the point of displaying well-known representations and symbolism. The green stripe is simply there because it was what Matisse felt inspired to do at the time. Under close analysis, art historians claim that much of the painting appears to have been 'improvised'. This is indicated by the brush strokes – which are perhaps most obviously ad lib in the black patch centre-right. 

Paysage du Midi – Andre Derain

Although revolutionary, this gaudy movement did return to familiar territory in the subject matter artists would choose to paint. Moving away from the popular urban depictions, les fauves returned to painting landscapes.

In fact, London played a large part in the Fauvist movement. We can really see this period of history in context when we compare Claude Monet's dreamy, misty picture of the Houses of Parliament with Andre Derain's piece of yellows, pinks and lurid greens.

Houses of Parliament – Claude Monet

Charing Cross Bridge – Andre Derain

London art is still by far one of our most popular categories of art to this day! Perhaps it was Fauvism that set off this iconic theme with our very own ArtGallery artists.

Icarus – Henri Matisse

Fauvism was also a revolutionary movement for exploring the negative space in a painting. This is how works like 'Icarus' came to be so famous. Out of context, some people can find it difficult to understand why a piece so simple has become so revered. The answer is context. There may be thousands of people who can reproduce work like this, but les fauves were the first to do it – the first to have this original idea of completely breaking away from traditional art.

Inspired by some of the greatest painters of the previous era, like van Gogh, Munch and Cezanne – Matisse inspired many young artists who in turn became notable painters of their respective fields, such as Chagall, Levy and many abstract expressionists.

At the time of Matisse's first exhibition, another critic commented that his work was, 'a pot of paint flung in the face of the public.' This could either be taken in a negative way, or a great of describing the rebellious, spontaneous spirit captured by fauvism. We'd like to see it as a compliment to one of the most energetic and influential styles in Western art.

[Image credits]

User: André Derain, The Turning Road, L’Estaque (1906)

/ Public Domain

User: bgEuwDxel93-Pg at Google Cultural Institute

/ Starry Night – van Gogh/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

User: William Allen, Image Historian

/ The Green Stripe – Henri Matisse

/ Flikr / Public Domain

User: Sharon Mollerus

/ Paysage du Midi – Andre Derain

/ Flikr / Public Domain

User: Unknown

/ Houses of Parliament – Claude Monet/ Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

User:  André Derain / Charring Cross Bridge – Andre Derain / Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

User: Sharon Mollerus / Icarus – Henri Matisse/ Flikr / Public Domain


Art History | The Art World


by Aileen Mitchell 15. August 2016 09:00

An interview with Andrew Reid Wildman

Photography of urban scenes draws me. I am attracted by its realism, its resonance with everyday life in all its shades. When I see a photograph of a rundown shop or a derelict building, it sets off a chorus of emotion in me; sadness, recognition, familiarity, nostalgia, mystery, danger even. However I need to be able to engage with the photograph and this is why I use a technique I describe as “photofusionism.”

Andrew Reid Wildman

In photofusionism, I use the photograph as a starting point, the core of reality that cannot be changed. I am fascinated by the borders of reality, the point at which it blurs into perception. For me the work really starts to come alive at the edges of the photograph. I seek to fuse the painting and photograph in nearly every work I do, in order to create unity of reality and perception.

When I choose my scenes, I look for an underlying sense of nostalgia. On a deep level, I identify with my buildings; their loneliness (I never paint people in my urban work), the feeling of gradual decay and ageing, their world weariness, their emptiness and sadness but also their solidity, their resilience and timelessness.

I see great beauty in urban scenes; the glory of red brick Victoriana, the solid ochre and limestone colour of stone, the corrugated iron and rusting metal of windows. I love the peeling plaster work of stucco and the black, inky texture of hot tar. My works tend to focus on places of great personal significance to me. For instance many of my photofusionist works depict Yorkshire. As a young child I remember the thrill of visiting Hull with its endless streets of tatty Victorian terraces, many of them already condemned and empty. I also remember the joy of York’s medieval buildings and the promise of cakes and toys.

In London, I constantly return to Maison Berteux, an old fashioned Soho cake shop with striking stucco that makes me want to paint it again and again. Other favourites are Edinburgh and Glasgow and London’s Brick Lane, all with their fair share of urban danger.

I very often add collage to my photofusionist works as I find this makes the work really come alive. I choose collage materials from lost decades, the 50s, 60’s and 70’s. This material connects me to the building and gives the work a soul. The cheery idealism of advertising draws me and cheers me, softening the sharpness of time lost with its eternal simplicity.


Artists | Artists Corner | Being an Artist

The Culture of Equine Art

by Aileen Mitchell 10. August 2016 12:29

We have records of our relationship with horses ever since the beginning of society from murals in ancient Egypt to cave carvings in the South of France. There has been a strong presence of equine art throughout history that doesn't seem to be stopping. So what is it about these animals that make them so important to our culture and us?

The first known wall carvings of horses are from around 30,000 BC. At this point in history, we were most likely to still be gazing at the creatures from afar, as the domestication of horses didn't actually happen until 3,000 BC. We can already see an obvious fascination for horses so early on in history.

After the domestication of horses, they took a back seat in the art world as Christian faith themed paintings became the most popular theme. It wasn't until the Renaissance era (1300 – 1600) that equine art had its own renaissance with artists like Leonardo da Vinci, who was commissioned to make the largest horse sculpture in the world. 

It was the following Baroque period (1600-1760) that depicting horses in paintings really become en vogue. This came about with the birth of British horse racing and hunting, popularised by King James I, and later, King Charles II.

Suddenly, Lords and Knights wished to be on their noble steeds and prize horses in their portraits. This was the beginning of horses used in serious UK sports, and the status symbol of the day.

The 1700s was also the time of George Stubbs – one of the most influential artists in equine studies. Nicknamed 'the horse painter', George Stubbs developed a fascination for the animals in childhood that later developed into his artist career. Stubbs would not only paint the horses he was so captivated by, but would also go on to produce anatomically correct studies after dissecting carcases. These studies were a major influence on later artists who would use Stubbs' work as reference for their own paintings.

British horse sports continued to be extremely popular a century after the work of Stubbs, and into the era of Romanticism (1800 – 1850).

Famous artist, Edgar Degas, joined the long list of history's equine artists and painted horses at the races. Degas was also one of the first artists to use photographs as a reference for his paintings.

Famous photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge took equine study to new levels with his breakthrough in using motion photography. As a pioneer of motion photography, Muybridge took some very important shots of horses that aided countless artists on the anatomy of the horse. This footage also helped answer a centuries old debate about whether a horse's four legs were all off the ground at a point in its stride. (The answer is yes). Some of Muybridge’s animal locomotion prints can be seen in Kingston Museum, Surrey.


Since then, we’ve used horses for lots of different purposes in our society – sport, military, the American West expeditions, and agriculture. The growth in demand for horses has certainly lead to more depictions in many styles and forms.

But what about the modern world? There has been a definite subsidence in the need for horses as working animals and companions, but our intrigue seems not to have been abated.

Skewbald by Paul Burgess

Even up to today where our online gallery boasts a huge variety of equine art, which is one of the most popular categories.

It seems that we have a deep-rooted fascination for these magnificent creatures that was stirred thousands of years ago and seems to have stayed. Perhaps it is purely because they are beautiful animals: they themselves are a true work of art.

Image credits

User: Cro-Magnon peoples/ Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

User: Cliff/ Flickr/ Public Domain

George Stubbs

/ Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

User: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division/ Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain


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