Deft and Joyful

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We’ve all experienced those times when making the effort to get to a show is tough.  After a round trip to Grimsby (210 miles) another hike down to Coventry as the evening drew in wasn’t favourite.  But I really wanted to see Visual Stream, a solo show by the painter Jeff Dellow.  And it was a real pleasure.  Over recent years I can count on the fingers of two hands (and I see a lot of shows) outings of abstraction by individual artists (they tend to be as rare as hen’s teeth given the predilections of our current curatorships) and fewer still that give one the rarer still feeling of complete satisfaction and – joy – an extremely precious commodity in the contemporary art world.

It’s the first thing that comes at you in this well selected (by fellow painter Matthew Macaulay) show that presents a small selection of Jeff’s little panel paintings and a goodly number of the larger canvases is a joyfulness and playfulness in the opportunities that abstraction offers.  And the colour palette is as joyful, vibrant, diverse and equally as exuberant as the handling.

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There are a range of tropes at work of course, but these are varied and diverse…just sufficiently repeated to bring the stylistic consistency to the whole but never dull or lazy. Every so often you spot another, different and original painterly handle, a flick of the wrist, a smear, another kind of grid played off against a box or a plane, and so on.  An endless variation of the painters thinking, an expansive repertoire based on quite a few decades of concentrated looking and absorbing what paint can do and how it can be deployed without resorting to mimesis.  There is deep time locked into these pictures, that despite their alarming freshness, also embed a lifetime of intensity in the consideration of abstraction.  The show runs in the Lanchester Research Gallery, in the Graham Sutherland building on Cox Street, Coventry until 2nd February 2018 – if you care about abstract painting in the present you need to get along there!

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The Cornish Coast

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Priests Cove, Acrylic on Linen, 10 x 10 cm., 2014

This series is suspended for the moment, but this is one that hasn’t been posted yet. I need to ‘top up’ my exposure to the necessary coastline…lucky then that my wife has just announced an end of year trip to Mousehole!  This is ideally located only a few miles from where I started, just to the south of Lands End.  There are sure to be opportunities to  get across to locations such as Porthchapel and, one of my all time favourites, Minack.  And good news too that, courtesy of Matthew Macauley, Martin Beck, from my Black North series is being sent to Coventry shortly…and to top it up Rachael Pinks has invited me to show in Salon 6 up in Derbyshire at the end of September.  It’s such a pleasure to have such good friends and colleagues.  Details of both shows will follow!

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Black North series, installed at Lakeside, Nottingham, Nov. 2013 to Feb. 2014…Martin Beck in the centre.