After leaving the gallery my companion and I found we had to use sweeping hand and arm gestures while discussing the exhibition we had just seen. It was as if words, even the extensive use of adjectives, were insufficient to capture the total experience.
In this show Home continues his examination of art works from the 17th century to better understand painting techniques today. He neither imitates nor rehashes images of predecessors, rather the artist engages with historical references as a means of learning. By collecting fragments of pictures from an earlier era, the contemporary artist can better appreciate the processes of painting and produce intriguing images that maintain the continuity of fine art through the ages.
Home reaches back to the Baroque, pulls pieces out of Caravaggio's larger works and concentrates on each as an end in itself. By removing an anecdote from a dramatic tableau, the artist emancipates it from the composition for which it was created, isolates it as an image, and allows the viewer to wallow in the fullness of the painted still life. And fullness is all around us here; plump fruit at its peak of ripeness, oranges torn open by hand, luscious figs, sensuous pears, all in rich colour guaranteed to satisfy any appetite.
The artist is a fine colourist, he works his hues in studied combinations to bring out the best of each. Volume is well defined while occasionally depth of field can be arbitrary. Somehow when lime green (Figs on a Green Ground) or watermelon pink (Crazy Chase) is employed as a ground it seems to hover around, rather then fall behind, the subject of the painting. This encourages an emotional engagement with the image that goes beyond just subject recognition. Home's colour caresses the surface in each painting, whether it is spread as thin as a grape skin or gathered into a collection of bold brush strokes.
As well as still life subjects, the artist also presents a collection of portraits gleaned from the Masters' works. Some you will recognize as having been a member of a crowd in paintings by Valesquez or Caravaggio. Each now wears the signature stylistics of Home; that hint of splicing a section of his subject, as if there was a nanosecond time warp, and his use of a rich brown, either as a warm sepia wash or in thick bold marks. The exhibition creates a sense of the old world trusting new ideas, as there appears to be a mutual respect between tradition and innovation. Each image owns a decided strength as every composition rests on a sturdy frame of good drawing.
The past masters distilled a single object or particular gesture with
alacrity while this modern painter gives the gesture movement and activates
the still life. The spirit of the past has been set free, which is why
one wants to employ active hand movements when discussing Home's work.
This is a fine show one to be seen and savoured.
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