Known for his landscapes of East Kent and the River Thames, George Rowlett’s range of subject is considerably broader. Since 2005, when he took up the challenge of a residency in Wales to paint in Capel y ffin, he has spent a part of each year painting other places in the British Isles and occasionally venturing abroad. In the autumn of 2013 he spent three weeks in a cottage on the edge of the Humber Estuary and in spring 2014 he accepted a residency in southern Spain. All of these places feature in this exhibition.
George Rowlett’s paintings are made on the spot and are a celebration of sustained spontaneity. Restless and alive they catch and reflect light, the paint constantly on the go, thick and turbulent, delicate and sturdy they are laden with evidence of the experience of being there in all weathers; a do or die form of brinksmanship to capture fleeting moments of light in an ever changing subject and make it real.
William Feaver writes in the exhibition catalogue that:
“The paintings employ active landscape with unfailing verve: crane signalling to pylon against infinitely spacious skies; oil green seaweed lapping the rubble of chalk at the foot of creamy cliff faces; blubbing narcissi; dried out Andalusian olive groves spreading like stubble across south facing slopes deftly squidged; that astonishing outburst-cum-downpour of ‘February Sunsplash under the Cliffs, Kingsdown’ where distances flail and skitter.
Often, maybe to squash any hint of a suggestion that he’s soft on the picturesque, George’s titles operate like Met Office bulletins. ‘Kingsdown Cliffs from the Butts, Drizzle to the South, Afternoon’ spells it out but the picture itself tells so much more. There’s the sou’wester quality that comes of working in such changeable circumstances that all he can do is keep up, keep looking, keep contriving to keep the paint clean and the application sensational (in the true meaning of the word); the sense of tracking from tide to tide on Thames and Humber, breasting hills, nosing flowers, telling the weight of the sea, constantly absorbing and attuning himself to the passing subtleties of light.”
Born in Troon on the West Coast of Scotland in 1941, George Rowlett attended Camberwell School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. He has work in public and private collections worldwide and this exhibition marks the 22th anniversary of a long and fruitful association with Art Space Gallery.
A 24 page catalogue with 14 colour plates accompanies the exhibition and is available from the Gallery.
View Exhibition Catalogue on-line