Galleries - November 2016

SarahAdams, that quite indefatigable painter of the Cornishcoastline, is of a generation of artists who is drawn to live and paint in Cornwall. The reasons have little to do with what we think are the obvious ones – principally abstraction and light – that so preoccupied the classic Modernist generation of Lanyon, Heron, Frost et al. For Adams, who came back to Cornwall some 11 years ago, the initial fascination was withrock and cave formations, not as a means to abstraction but, in an almost Ruskinian sense, as awe inspiring, individual visual things in themselves. It is a fascination that has never deserted her and has led her into alarming physical dangers as, making her studies first hand, she often dices with tides, waves and vertigo. The artistic risk though is being visually repetitive, but it is one she surmounts easily enoughthrough her artistic curiosity. The latest pieces shown at The Maas Gallery this month reveal a growing interest in colour alongside that of structure. These caves hum with resonant tones – inky, purply blues, rusty pinks, yellowy greens – engaging the eye and imagination and 'making' the picture. Nicholas Usherwood NOVEMBER 2016 GALLERIES 47 One of the remarkable sculptors who grew up in the wake of, and reacted strongly to, Henry Moore's dominance – Armitage, Butler, Chadwick, Clarke and Frink among them – George Fullard has remained somewhat apart from them too. His work reflects some increasingly eccentric and idiosyncratic tendencies which never fitted the dominating narrative that art historians have subsequently constructed for this period. Thus, despite several major shows in the 1990s, his work has remained obstinately on the sidelines since his early death in 1973. It will be interesting to see therefore whether Michael Bird's new book on him, the outcome of extensive digging into the Fullard archives, and the exhibition at Gallery Pangolin , will finally show Fullard as one of the most original sculptors of his time. His art followed a fascinating trajectory, one always shaped by the experience of war. First it was in the terrifying blitz of his native Sheffield in 1940 when he was 17, and subsequently as a severely wounded tank officer in the desert and, from the expressively modelled running and walking figures of the 1950s via the disturbing, surrealistic assemblages of the 1960s, to the witty large scale reliefs on more maritime themes that he was pursuing at his death – violence, terror and the human experience are never far below the surface. Entitled 'Beneath the surface', this large, five-year retrospective of Christopher P Wood's painting at Dean Clough, Halifax, covers a prolific period in this original artist's 30-year career, one in which major technical and stylistic upheavals have often been accompanied by quite radical shifts in subject matter also. Opening with the visionary landscapes, lyrical and ecstatic in character, that had become his 'signature' style over the previous decade, Wood felt the overwhelming need to open up new paths into his imaginative unconsciousness and, for 18 months or more, completely abandoned oil painting for collage. 'Raiding his plan chests' was how he lightheartedly put the process but, it proved a constructive way of exploring and re-assessing 'beneath' the public artistic persona, the ambiguous 'surface' of the show's title. It has also involved a very thoroughgoing exploration of the nature of the actual surfaces he was employing in his practice and, moving on from collage, Wood also started painting on etched zinc before finally returning to work on canvas a year or two back. Here is an artist at the height of his emotional powers, brave and willing to change things around, to experiment, as part of an urgently felt need to dig deeper into the richness of his unconscious. CODA from left G eorge Fullard ‘Near and Far’ Gallery Pangolin Sarah Adams ‘Labyrinth’ The Maas Gallery Christopher P Wood ‘Landmark’ Dean Clough C hristopher P Wood George Fullard Sarah Adams