Archive for the ‘writings’ Category

Peter G Ray

As an artist, one has many influences and at certain times some have a special significance. At this stage in my career, Peter G. Ray is a painter who I consider both a catalyst and a major figure in painting today. I first became aware of these extraordinary works about six years ago on Kenworth’s Moffett’s Art Letter website and shortly after this I saw three of Ray’s works in the flesh, when visiting Moffett. On this occasion one painting stood out for me; a small black and white one. The two other larger and colourful ones did not grab my eye other than just liking certain parts of the pictures. I also saw some in print reproductions, which again, did not spark much interest.

On seeing these paintings a year or so later and the prints also, the difference in my perception was remarkable. Now seeing and liking the coloured paintings and the prints, a time of influence had begun. During the intervening period, some experimentation in using fluid paint had been going on in my own painting along also with a particular interest in the paint work of Bruce Piermarini and Irene Neal. But for now focusing on Ray, who I also met during this visit to America and he showed me photographs of some of his black and white paintings which were quite something.

I consider Peter G.Ray’s work to be a of great importance. As a painter myself, I recognise him as one of those leading figures that aspiring artists have to acknowledge in order to progress. Not to paint like him, but to understand that he is where painting is at.

“Flowers”  2005   20”x20”

“Flowers” 2005 20”x20”

I See You 2007

I See You 2007

Ray’s art consolidates stunning visuals, raw emotion, vivid imagination, immense skill and above all, a highly original and powerful aesthetic. Peter G. Ray shows you things that you have not seen before and so beautifully. A kind of Pollock and Dali collaboration with some occasional Max Earnst sinisterness, but with Ray’s utterly fresh vision. Not only can he fill a space with amazing forms be they black and white or colour, but he can also open out or compress the space and make it part of his arrangement. Mainly using improvised paint pouring, Peter G. Ray also incorporates a variety of mark making and brush work, including precise or coarse renditions which seamlessly merge into the whole picture. He has also more recently included some representational features such as letters, and repeated patterns of angels and butterflies. These pieces remind me of street art, but in a much more accomplished sense.

Ray, has also, latterly managed to bring these elements of his art into a Pop/Conceptual style. He has succeeded in absorbing his techniques onto other materials such as doors, shopping/gift bags and objects specially made for him, such as a large aluminium bag. Visually, these are not as impressive as the out and out paintings and vary more in success, but I guess they are designed to engage the viewer in ideas.

Peter G.Ray is not just a painter, he is a writer also and I suppose it is inevitable that expressions of a literary inclination will seep into his work, while maintaining a strong visual vocabulary.

"Act"  2006  48"x72"

“Act” 2006 48″x72″

"The Beginning"  2007  36"x48"

“The Beginning” 2007 36″x48″

Shopping Bag, Bridge Gallery, New York, 2011

Shopping Bag, Bridge Gallery, New York, 2011

Francis Danby 1793-1861

“Early Morning-The Fisherman’s Home” c.1858.

Early Morning-Francis Danby

Early Morning-Francis Danby

Irish born Danby is best known for his large-scale narrative works: a famous one being “The Deluge” which is usually on show at Tate Britain. Associated with the Romantic period along with the likes of John Martin and Turner, he is less noted for his later works. The art establishment found these more experimental pictures too rich in colour, and still today they are held in lower regard than his grander pieces.
It seems that the current lack of awareness in aesthetic quality is not just limited to modern art. Auction prices reflect a shocking disregard for visual attributes in all periods, successful sales are determined by big names and their associates. Yes, often many of these high value works are great, but quality is not the price barometer.

“Early Morning-The Fisherman’s Home”, by Francis Danby is a jaw dropping beauty. Its initial appearance can be deceptive. If you first sight it from a distance, though immediately striking, it looks minimal for a landscape – a bit Turner-like. The ethereal and opulent colour is matched with such precise arrangements. On getting closer, much more detail is revealed, while losing none of its overall effect. It is magical how all these other things are there, almost hidden, yet so much going on, yet so peaceful. We see the house and the steps leading up to it and how it is fashioned into the rock. There are people, a boat and it’s contents, a duck on the water, fine ripples, a path going around the lake, a mountain peak in the distance and more… Painted with detail, plenty of content, yet first appearing sparse. A truly enigmatic painting.

There is more brightness in the detailed image below to further illustrate.

Early Morning-Francis Danby Detail

Early Morning-Francis Danby Detail

What I enjoy most about this painting is how it evokes a sense of peace and stillness. If you have ever experienced quietness to the point that nothing can be heard, this picture emphasises that. I find that it helps take you closer to God’s presence.

Bram Bogart

Le Vent dans les Couleurs

Le Vent dans les Couleurs

It wasn’t until November of 2007, when, at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery in London I first saw some Bram Bogart paintings. I had seen reproductions, but only about a year earlier. Despite his strong profile in Europe, having numerous shows over a period of more than fifty years, it is shocking that he is not better known in the UK and America. Having met Bogart at the opening of another display at Bernard Jacobson in September 2009, which focused mainly on larger works, it is even more surprising that at eighty-eight the frailties of his advanced age have not dampened his creativity. There were two new smaller pieces that offered sumptuous colour and a mind-boggling power of simplicity, which can only come with experience.

In Bram Bogart we have an artist who has been going strong for half a century. The heavy plaster-like material has served him well throughout this time. There have been many changes, but the distinctive style has remained. This is an unusual achievement, which I can only partly explain by pointing to the influences he has incorporated into his art. Throughout, there has been the strong adherence to a European Matter painting aesthetic, but much influence has also been drawn from American art. I see similarities with Rothko and Hofmann. From the Colour Field era, there’s the symmetry of Noland and the edges/spaces of Olitski. More recently the colourfulness and aggression of New New has surely found its way into Bogart’s strange mixture.


When I first saw Bogart’s paintings, it reminded me of how I reacted to seeing an exhibition of paintings by another never say die octogenarian, Hans Hofmann, at the Tate Gallery in 1988. Bedazzled by the colour, texture and scale, these were more than just big canvases with strong colour and large surface sweeps. They had a life of their own; they dominated the space. Bram Bogart’s pictures also have great impact on a space. Their physical presence, uncomplicated colours and child-like play doughish nature take your eye on a journey of joy and discovery.

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