Gordon Dalton’s paintings make the viewer look longer and harder at what painting is, and why it continues to be curious and fascinating.
These are landscape paintings, but not of one place. They are an invention, full of contrasts and spontaneity. The seemingly offhand approach denies any superficial finesse to reveal a love of awkward imagery, polluted colours and a stuttering bad grammar.
They have an ‘anxious contradiction’, with the work being self-conscious of what it is, its possible failings, yet strive for the simple pleasure of looking and a one to one relationship with a painting.
The places depicted in Dalton’s pictures reside somewhere between fantasy, nostalgia and a decorative beauty, both intimate and epic landscapes, multiple horizons and perspectives, all flattened down into one image that has its own life.
Dalton talks about reclaiming the landscape from cliché, but using familiar recurring motifs such as boats, clouds and birds. He lays out scenes of patterned splendour, dark skies and trees among area of biomorphic pools of colour, outlined in black on both heavily worked and scratchy areas of bare canvas.
They combine memories of places he has lived, visited or longingly imagined as well as references to significant events and art history.
The paintings are not directly of these paintings or places, but rather an idea of a place and the melancholy of longing and wanting to belong. An unfashionable romanticism grounded in the act of painting.