Saturday, 25 February 2012

Empty Deckchair

Empty Deckchair - 11" x 15" - Acrylic on Canvas

This painting is one of six that will be on show in the upcoming Royal Society of British Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London - 29 February to 10 March 2012.

One of the, perhaps less obvious, influences on my painting is the work of the Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). I especially liked the natural way that he made people part of the landscape. His figures are often partly obscured - maybe passing behind a tree or crossing a bridge with an umbrella against the rain - and no more or less important than the landscape they inhabit. As a young art student I discovered that my widowed neighbour, her husband had died in the late 1950s, had a complete set of Hiroshige's woodblock prints of the 'Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido'. She kept them wrapped in newspaper in the cupboard under the stairs. Whenever I visited her and asked to see them she would fetch them, give them to me and leave. When I had finished looking at them she would return, and put them back in their place in the dark under the stairs. They were very beautiful and I spent many hours studying them. She told me her husband had acquired the set while in the Far East at the end of the war. I asked her why she didn't display them. She simply said, "Jim was a prisoner of the Japanese, I can't bear to look at them." After that I didn't like to ask to see them again.

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