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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Two Fine Painters at the Royal Cambrian Academy

...well worth a look...

The current exhibition at Conwy's Royal Cambrian Gallery is a 'two-header' of very different and very accomplished painters who are using painted pigments to emulate the transient beauty of light and life. 

In the ground floor gallery space you have an opportunity to see stunning landscapes by Harry Robertson, including one of the best paintings of a moody Welsh waterfall I have seen. Robertson certainly manages to capture the movement of light across the land and the way the pattern of sunshine and cloud-shadow alters the texture and detail. 'Detail' is a word that comes to mind again and again when looking at his meticulously executed work - his selection of what details to include and which to leave out lends a photographic realism that also manages to hint at a much deeper poetic response.  If you like landscape painting, you would be 'hard-pushed' to find better than these... (Though fellow Royal Cambrian Academy artist Gerald Dewsbury could be a contender.)

John Baum's large colourful canvasses can be viewed in the upstairs gallery - another painter that loves the play of light - and loves to play with light... mainly naturalistic portraits against an artificial setting, these works are then built up with daubs of bright sunny colours that push the photo/graphic representation towards abstract composition, whilst remaining realist and keenly observed. The clean lines and use of spaces in these scenes brings to mind the work of a happy Edward Hopper. It appears that Baum has found a style of work that suits his artist's eye - a departure from much of his earlier portrait works that were simply fiercely lit figures against flattened photo-real backgrounds - and I find the paintings currently on show much more engaging and uplifting (not only because there are also a few nicely observed dogs).

...Harry Robertson and John Baum exhibition until 6 July...

After that, your best bet for top-notch landscape painting (and other work) would be the Rob Piercy Gallery in Porthmadog. The cosy, friendly gallery hosts a permanent exhibition of oils and watercolours by Piercy and a selection of work by other local artists who connect with the land, such as Bill Swann, who works mainly with glass...

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