John Virtue Towner Gallery Eastbourne

This exhibition is quite overwhelming. The scale of the paintings is magnificent. The triptychs are 21 feet wide. You have to really negotiate the canvas with your eyes to take in the whole composition (and that’s the point, it makes you feel so small against the sea). As a confirmed colourist I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the paintings but I was bowled over by them. And they don’t lack colour – the greys are so expressive. I really enjoyed the light grey over black, with white overlaid and them some dark grey on top and so on. The marks are amazing, as are the layers of texture and paint on the surface of the painting.
I hadn’t been aware of his association with the National Gallery and that he had completed a residency there from 2003-2005.

John Virtue The Sea

John Virtue The Sea

The was my favourite painting from the exhibition. The simplicity is very disarming and I really like the light square in the top right hand corner.

Ashley Hanson Open Studio at Shire Hall Bodmin

Visited Ashley Hanson who was operating a 3 week Open Studio in Shire Hall, instead of working in his usual space – his garage. His paintings were large and colourful and for me, very appealing. His use of complementary colours was excellent. I also like the way he used aerial vision and then subverted it with upright depictions of tall buildings. The City of Glass series is based on a detective novel written about Manhatten. Ashley lived in New York for a while.

The grids in the paintings are road layouts, the people represent people in the book. It’s a very interesting approach to finding source material for paintings. He showed me a diptych, each painting with a figure carrying a case, and seen from behind. They represented two characters in the book who were seen leaving a train.

Both characters fit the description of a man that the detective was meant to be following. The paintings are about the choice which character should be followed. The arrangement of colours and composition of the paintings lead the viewer to favour one choice rather than the other.
Ashley told me that he always works with two complementaries and one other colour in his paintings. He certainly has excellent sensitivity as to which red he puts with which green. He was achieving the Hans Hofmann effect of push and pull.
Ashley had been exhibited in the National Open at Chichester – not sure which year.