Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Photograph from the exhibition

Entering the exhibition space the viewer is confronted with colour and is exiled to an evolving perspective and landscape which is set in the white wall space of the ominous silence of an art exhibition on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. The exhibition filters and engages with Craxton’s influences which range from Picasso, Blake, Palmer and even Miro. Elements of the surreal are entwined within the linear narratives which occasionally supplement Craxton’s apparent goat fetish.

“I find it’s possible to feel a real person – real person, real elements, real windows – real sun above all windows. In a life of reality my imagination really works.” – John Craxton (Text found emblazoned across the gallery space)

Craxton’s early work and landscapes appear to be reactions to reality and its natural surroundings. The incorporation of natural elements enables Craxton’s works to work as coordinated entities to figure a whole landscape which exists emotionally and metaphorically but as literal with linear forms leading into our reality. This world of bucolic mystery formed on concentrated observations of Craxton’s surroundings creates a confrontation with the viewer as cubist traits infiltrate works weighted with evolving brushstrokes reflecting a luminosity burning with a changing landscape.

John Craxton (1945)  Red and Yellow Landscape, [Oil on board]

A conversation and dialogue is generated with Craxton’s close friends and influences which include Graham Sutherland, a link which is made clear in Red and Yellow Landscape, 1945 – where Craxton appears to pay homage to Sutherland’s evocative use of colour. Layered within Craxton’s structured surfaces and poetic motifs is the presence of an underlying falsification within Craxton’s communication of colour. The emotional intensity imprisons reality in suggestions and symbols to fly off the canvas with the birds which frequent many of Craxton’s compositions to fly into the edges of our vision and thoughts on transience.

There is a strong poeticism within works such as 3 Lithographs from From the Poet’s eye, 1945. Not purely because of their illustrative purposes in accompanying and accentuating the power of the poems within the book, but because of Craxton’s poeticism of line, colour and form. As you progress round the exhibition you see stepping stone pieces and progression posting markers for Craxton’s movement and influences.

The exhibition: A WORLD OF PRIVATE MYSTERY: JOHN CRAXTON, RA (1922-2009), runs from Tuesday the 3rd December 2013 to Monday 21st  April 2014.

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