Ray Atkins' reputation has been built on paintings that focus on the derelict and forgotten places of Cornwall: old mine workings, quarries and the vast open cast china clay pits around St Austell and high on Bodmin Moor. This has been his subject for 35 years and his exhibitions have concentrated on these monumental landscapes which are painted entirely outdoors. Less well known are the equally monumental figure based studio paintings and this exhibition brings together these two apparently different aspects of the work to show the harmony that exists between them.
Painting outside is all about change. The light certainly. The surrounding environment also changes in split seconds as vehicles, people and animals come and go. At the clay pits even the physical shape of the land and rock alters as he works. In a studio, unlike the outside world that refuses to co-operate, the model traditionally remains very still. However, to a painter whose work is fired by an involvement with an ever changing subject, Ray Atkins' studio paintings are about capturing human movement.
Collaborating with the dancer and chereographer Hsiao-Hwa Li has given him the opportunity to paint a person in action and explore the possibilities of complex choreographed movements with dynamically organized spatial elements. Three years of intensive work has produced hundreds of charcoal and pastel drawings and a group of paintings that are the result of a remarkable creative partnership between artist and model.
Ray Atkins, a graduate of the Slade in the 60s has shown regularly at Art Space Gallery since 1989 and during this time has had major retrospective exhibitions at The Royal West of England Academy and at the Kilkenny Arts Festival in Ireland. He has work in private and public collections in Germany, U.S.A and the UK, including the Arts Council, British Council and the British Museum.