Dale Grimshaw in his first solo show at Signal Gallery pays tribute to all those struggling figurative artists still out there. His work celebrates the art of painting and the mediums power to depict atmosphere, evoke memories and stir emotions. Even if this appears to be from an outsiders perspective ' warily watching himself and the world around him.
Dale has much to be wary about in his past. A troubled childhood (abusive father, unwell mother, poverty) and an angry and politicised adolescence - all seemed to be dragging him to the edge of a precipice. But then there was his art. The one thing he could rely on and be proud of was his facility to paint. An alternative trajectory leads him to do foundation courses at Blackburn College of Art and then onto Middlesex University where he confidently completed his BA in Fine Art.
After graduating Dale had success in winning prizes and commissions, notably the murals project in Cairo, Egypt and the large paintings at the Millennium Church in Dublin. However his other passion, music, drew him away from his painting for a number of years and it's only in the last two years that he has devoted himself to his painting again. It has been a hard journey of rediscovery. The reward has been to find that with a more mature head on his shoulders the works are coming out more complex, subtle and insightful.
His current creative concern is posing the question - how do we see the world? We focus here, there and everywhere, sometimes randomly, sometimes with a purpose ' searching, seeking and trying to understand. Our visual experiences can seem like an enormous jigsaw that our brain works overtime to join up and make sense of. Dales work is presenting the viewer with glimpses of the world that we see before the mind has had a chance to create order out of chaos ' the puzzle laid out before us still in pieces.
The medium of figurative painting is how he gets his message across. Influenced on the one hand by the giants in this field ' including Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon and Peter Howson - Dale also finds the power and dynamism of the Abstract Expressionists, notably Franz Kline, inspirational. He owes a debt to the late 70s 'cut and paste' punk artists Jamie Reid and Gee Vaucher from Crass - as do many contemporary Urban Artists, not least Banksy himself.
He makes his works by producing a series of photomontage sketches of his subject matter in the manner of Hockney. These 'sketches' are then worked up onto canvases, firstly blocking in the foundation of the picture then adding the detail in the form of separately worked paper images which are stuck on. The whole work is then given additional layering by strips of translucent sprayed-on paint. The effect, in the larger pieces, is kaleidoscopic. In the smaller more intimate works, that are mostly self- portraits, the effect is more psychologically profound, sometimes with Francis Bacon-like intensity.
Dales varied and virtuosic solo show clearly demonstrates both the continued relevance of figurative painting as a medium for 21st Century expression and that he himself is a master of the genre. No apology needed, this is artwork that needs to be seen, understood and appreciated.