Hinterland in Tenby
‘Hinterland’, literally ‘the land behind’, those mysterious areas with unclear boundaries half-hidden from view, seen from a train maybe, is the title for the June exhibition at the White Lion Street Gallery in Tenby. The three exhibiting artists have all have gone their own way, occupying an area outside the mainstream of artistic fashion and demonstrating different stages between realistic image to pure abstraction.
Bert Evans specialised in painting at Newport College of Art (1967-72) his early stylistic development helped by the advice of such artists as Jack Crabtree and Selwyn Jones. Bert is concerned with the effects of light on a subject rather than the subject itself and uses a small camera to catch fleeting patterns as a starting point: the image gets redrawn with pencil until a simple 3 or 4 tone pattern emerges and a range of limited colour is applied in a loose impressionist style.
At first glance his paintings appear straightforward: street views with people going about their ordinary everyday business – a couple sitting, looking out to sea, a family eating ice creams, skateboarders jumping. But the under-painting, usually bright, peeps through – unifying the whole but making the viewer aware of the painting process. And the compositions are unstaged – a glimpse captured rather than contrived, with shadows breaking quieter areas. Strong bright colour, cropped compositions, painting with the knobs on – shop signs, street signs and road markings are not omitted but retained and obvious in the scene - this is not subtle understated work, it’s ‘in your face’ painting. Not fussily accurate, or photographic in any way, Bert Evans’ paintings are robust and immediate, have no message other than ‘this is how it is, here, now.’
Elizabeth Haines’ long artistic career has evolved and transformed her work from early exquisite watercolours and drawings, illustrative work, to paintings that incorporated Welsh poetry and to abstract work related to music. Released from the practical need to illustrate, inspired by studies in European painting and given to be adventurous, Elizabeth often now works in an organic, experimental, apparently random fashion at the beginning of work. Allowing images to emerge, retaining some areas, changing others, she gradually focuses her attention. She says, “Some paintings remain on the edge of abstraction, allowing viewers their own interpretation, and some become more representational.”
Rich colour and texture, produced by using different mediums, combined with the enigmatic subject matter make Elizabeth’s work memorable. In this exhibition she’ll focus on mountains – based in the reality of Wales’ high land and the vagaries of the weather and evoking metaphors for earth’s strength and endurance, human endeavour and frailty.
Andrew Douglas-Forbes’ paintings also start with boards painted randomly and roughly in neutral colours. The scene, be it landscape, fishermen or flowers, is painted on the surface, sometimes merging with and disappearing into the background. The effect is of an image which appears like a mirage, elusive and mysterious however mundane the subject. The compositions are natural – a table left after a simple meal, a dresser filled with crockery and flowers - and muted colours create a quiet tonal harmony.
Andrew has painted all his life and in addition is an operatic singer. He sees his two careers as being, in essence, the same: “both are concerned with communication, harmonies and discords, descriptions of emotions, objects, feelings and colours.” His painting is subtle and atmospheric, his subject matter suggesting far more than the obvious and immediate, hinting of others’ lives, past stories and memories.
Both Andrew and Elizabeth work predominantly from drawings made on the spot, producing fine line detailed work of figures, buildings and landscapes. In the studio a further selection follows and broader brushstrokes and calligraphic marks translate the fine drawing, a composition is made and a mood evoked through colour, shape and symbol.
From studios in a garden shed, a barn, and a chapel the artists bring paintings of busy streets, remote mountains and domestic settings: three unique styles from artists of long experience have created an exhibition that is memorable and haunting – created in a Welsh hinterland, between a Wales of today and of the past, of reality and myth, in styles outside the usual and obvious.
The exhibition will show from 31st May to 28th June at the White Lion Street Gallery in Tenby (next to the former cinema). The gallery is open from10am till 5pm every day except Wednesday and everyone is welcome. For further information telephone 01834-843375 or see images of the whole exhibition on the website www.artmatters.org.uk
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