Tuesday 14 May 2013

Walker Art Gallery

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
 John Moore's Prizewinners:

Creation and Crucifixion, Jack Smith, 1957
'My concern was to make the ordinary seem miraculous', said Jack Smith in the 1950s. He conveys this here largely through the handling of light, bathing the contents of the room in light. This anticipates his later developments towards geometrical abstraction and how the effects of light transform what we see.

March 1963, Roger Hilton, 1963
Hilton often titled his painting after the month in which they were finished. This painting typifies the spontaneous, rapid abstraction which he developed in the 50s, mixing drawing and painting. There are suggestions of the human form, a rock and a boat.

Peter Getting out of Nick's Pool, David Hockney, 1967
This painting reflects the impact of Hockney's move to California in 1964 with its sunny climate, relaxed lifestyle and vibrant colours. His interest in polaroid photography shows in the painting's format and white border. He based the painting partly on a polaroid of Peter leaning against an MG sports car. The challenge of depicting reflections on water and glass fascinated Hockney who uses parallel and wiggly lines over strong, flat colours borrowed from the conventions of comics and advertisements.

Broken Bride, 13.6.82, John Hoyland 
Permanent Collection:
Blotter, Peter Doig
This painting is based on a photograph of the artist's brother standing on a frozen pond in Canada where the artist was brought up. Doig pumped water over the ice to enhance the reflection. The title refers to how a person can become absorbed in a place or landscape - the figure is looking down into his reflection to suggest inward thought. Blotter also refers to the paint soaking into the canvas.
A Glass of Water,  Michael Craig-Martin
Craig-Martin's use of graphic outlines and flat planes of colour is a distinguishing feature of his non-conceptual work. This piece is one of a series made over several years in which he combined the 2-dimensional illusion that painting can create with the actual 3-dimensional structure of sculpture. None of the separate elements which make up the piece is easily recognisable on its own, but the whole is instantly identifiable against the background of the gallery wall. The title of the work recalls Craig-Martin's most ffamous conceptual artwork, An Oak Tree, in which the artist represented the tree by a glass of water.
a side view

Aeolus, Gillian Ayres

Ayres' technique of dragging one thick colour over another, wet on wet, produces sensuous effects. Here, unusually, amist the density and apparent chaos of her brushstrokes there are hints of recognizable imagery: trees and flowers, hedges and fences, a wheel and a bridge, as if a garden or farm, provided inspiration for the painting. In Greek mythology, Aeolus is the ruler of the winds.

Untitled, No. 112, Paul Huxley, 1969 
Huxley uses simple geometric shapes and direct colours reflecting his experience of New York: the sharp shapes of buildings, yellow taxis and green garbage trucks had a noticeable impact on his painting. He favoured a square format for its neutrality - a horizontal canvas for example, could have inappropriately evoked a landscape. In this painting two distinct halves to the composition are evident.
Sea Cloud, Bridget Riley 
Sea Cloud demonstrates Riley's long-standing interest in the relationship between colours and the optical and sensual effects of regular and rythmic hard-edged patterns. It is inspired by underground tomb paintings in Luxor in Egypt that she visited in 1981. She was struck by the way they created feelings of great richness and light despite their environment and the limited number of colours employed. She used the same palette to search for similar effects. While working on these 'Egyptian' paintings Riley was commissioned to decorate two corridors in the Royal Liverpool Hospital. Her decorations no longer survive but the scheme again employed the Luxor palette to suggest, in her own words, 'feelings of light and sun and all the pleasurable sensations associated with them'.
 Three Pictures of You, Anthony Donaldson
This is the first of a sequence of six paintings he did in 1962. Each took the same image but 'sliced' it in different ways conveying pattern or movement from left to right. He kept the paint flat and impersonal, the colours cool. 'No backgrounds, no pictorial space, and no scene to set them in, just the women'. This repetition approach to his work occupied him for seven years. Drawing on popular culture the painting is characteristic of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s.
Counterpoint, Derek Johnson 
Johnson taught art but was also a professional jazz musician. There are musical analogies in both this painting's title and its rythmic patterns. At first glance repetitive, the pattern actually contains numerous variations. Through basic abstract marks and and primary colours on a flat, mauve background the viewer's eyes are invited to probe more deeply into its surface.
Orange, blue, green, pink, Michael Kidner 
Emphasis is placed on colour over line. A pulsating, irregular wave-like pattern in a combination of synthetic, somewhat artificial colours, conjures a sensation of movement or vibration from a static, flat image.

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