Exhibitions > REAL/SURREAL: TWO VIEWS OF WOODLAND
23rd March 2011 - 8th April 2011
Introduction by Peter Davies BSA (Author and Art Critic)
Two contrasting artists straddling the abstract expressionist to photo-realist divide come together at Gallery LeFort Fine Art in Bath through a shared interest in Woodland subject matter, a theme with romantic, even mystical significance for many modern artists like the early Mondrian or our own lyrical Ivon Hitchens.
The Birmingham born and Stourbridge trained Tim Craven’s meticulously rendered tree pictures adapt the post-modern, usually urban, style of photo-realism to a very English pastoralism focused on wooded landscape including the Bath locality. Influenced as much by Chuck Close, Richard Estes and his friend, John Salt as by Charles Ginner and the Camden Town painters, Craven creates a clever dichotomy, indeed paradox, between intricate hand-made mark-making and photo mechanical form. His long career at Southampton City Art Gallery, first as conservator, then as Curator, has given him a forensic knowledge of a fine twentieth century British Art Collection and through it an enhanced appreciation for surface.
Abi Kremer is also sensitive to surface mark and nuanced touch although she engages in a world of pure colour and diffuse atmospheric form that interprets landscape in terms of the immediate, unadulterated mark. London born and Harrow trained; Kremer has been a Bournemouth based teacher and painter since the late 1970’s. The subject of dance and of sublime, tranquil natural settings has elicited an almost oriental calligraphic touch, something she shares with such inspirational historical figures as Sam Francis, de Kooning, Frankenthaler and Lanyon. Thin, diaphanous and water-colourish, Kremer’s oil washes on canvas make oblique reference to the upward growth of trees. The refracted, prismatic and dappled light that inhabits these regions engenders a soft pastel like palette conjuring a Matisse like art of elegant poise and well-being............
Abi Kremer has had a varied artistic career spanning public and private practice. She has work in collections such as the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum and R.N.L.I. Commissions include a wall plaque for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and site specific work for the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
Currently the energy of woodland spaces and structures inspire work which reflects an interest in prismatic colour and arabesque movement. The influence of Japanese calligraphy and print making underpins this, also an admiration for the tachiste techniques adopted by artists of mid 20th century America and the St. Ives movement, such as Willem de Kooning and Winifred Nicholson. Translation into paint of organic phenomena addresses the subconscious, resulting in fantastical landscapes. Techniques of washes, masking and stippling create a process structure within which intuitive responses can flourish. Working with chance and accident is fundamental to her approach.
Music and dance are further sources of inspiration, leading to collaborations with dance companies such as Ballet Rambert . A long standing career as an art lecturer has cross referenced and nourished the work.
A recently published book Abi Kremer Colour and Inspiration, with essays by leading figures in the arts, will be on sale in the gallery.
Tim Craven paints dense and intricate, close landscapes of woodland and water courses. He is drawn to complex and rhythmic, natural imagery when flattened and abstracted by photography. His work explores the tension between hand-made mark-making and photo-mechanical form and the alchemy of myriads of tiny abstract shapes combining to create illusion and depth.
After training in fine art and the conservation of paintings, Craven joined the staff of Southampton City Art Gallery in 1980. Working up close with one of the finest regional public collections of art, spanning eight centuries for over 30 years has proved a privileged stimulus for his own art practice which he has always rigorously pursued. His work is therefore inevitably informed by a diverse range of style and ideas. He admires the English pastoral landscape tradition, notably the Pre-Raphaelite landscape painters such as J W Inchbold, and its links with Surrealism through Paul Nash and others as well as various abstract and contemporary movements including Op Art and The Systems Group.
His distinctive influences however are the densely patterned paintings of Charles Ginner of the Post-Impressionist Camden Town Group, and the work of his Birmingham born friend, John Salt, a celebrated first generation New York School Photorealist, who employs fine stencils with an airbrush.
Craven’s watercolours are often monochrome or in muted colour evoking memory and nostalgia. He is also interested in the notions of symbolism in eighteenth century landscape painting and poetry: panoramic landscape references the joining up of society and the spread of civilizing ideas whereas occluded landscape from low vantage points is a metaphor for privacy, consumption, introspection and possession.