Sunday, 19 July 2009

Colin Wilkin: Recent Paintings at St Jude's Gallery

Colin Wilkin - Recent Paintings
St Jude's Gallery, Itteringham, Norfolk Nr11 7AF
18 July - 1 August 2009-07-19
Open Thursday - Saturday 10 - 4pm
Aaaand another review with a vested interest to declare; until their recent move from next door to my house to remote(ish) Itteringham in North Norfolk, I had come to depend on St Judes for all my birthday present needs. Their Modern British aesthetic has a coherent visual logic - the plates have decorative tones that recall the fabrics, which go with the notebooks, which allude to the mugs. They didn't consult me before they left and I want them back.

The new gallery looks like something out of one of the Ravillious prints they stock - in an archetypical English village cupped in a woody valley with wobbly brick houses, friendly pub, diminutive yet perfect manor house.

Colin Wilkin comes from perfect English landscape too, walking and cycling round the Suffolk/Essex borders where he lives and works. He paints on a white ground, using watercolour with no body colour so the paintings are palest blues, greens, pinks and greys. I thought at first they were prints, because that's what I associate with the gallery, and also because the line drawing is so fine - his father was an engineer and there is a diagrammatic quality to the draftsmanship.

They are also map-like and exquisitely precise, even though he draws in the rough and wild open air. Sometimes the chemistry of the atmosphere dampens the paper and gives the colour greater strength. The colours are not naturalistic, it is almost as though they stand for real-life colours in a shaggier, rougher world.This precision is intriguing because he describes the process of making in a sort of existentialist way; he draws not only what he sees but peripheral and sensual stuff - the path his feet took, the sound of the shingle, raindrops from a vertical dimension.

After the first draft he puts them out of sight until they become unfamiliar, then revisits them over several days. They are therefore quite Cubist in structure and thought, insinuating different planes and dimensions of the visible and the non-visible like the layers of marked tissue paper of a sewing pattern.

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