Friday, September 26, 2008

English Genius Loci

Today I went for a quick tour of the second part of The Ancient Landscapes Pastoral Vision at the Victoria Gallery Bath. This second part covers more of David Inshaw, Graham Arnold, and Graham Ovenden paintings, The Brotherhood of the Ruralists.
There were about dozen David Inshaw's painting of Silbury, two with owls, and my favourite of a Night Silbury with stars and the glittering river winding its way towards its. His May Tree paintings were also fine, a flavour of spring and fresh greeness against the myriad white blossoms of the may flower.

Laurie Lee ("Their work shows an acute recognition of that mysterious world that still holds its kingdom a few yards from the motorways, a world of spirits, shapes and ancient voices that reverberate back to the caves").

There is nevertheless an unmistakeably modern edge of alienation to some of their work. This is most evident in the dreamscapes of Graham Ovenden, with their otherworldly trees and rocks, and indistinct horizons. Some of these evoke an ineffably English, timeless landscape, but some, with their use of bright reds and Mediterranean blues, do not suggest any recognisable place at all, leaving the viewer feeling adrift and disconnected. Overall, however, Ruralist paintings are usually identifiable with distinct places, and expressive of a particular kind of English genius loci.

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