In Uccellos’s Saint George and the Dragon (c. 1470), the saint’s sturdy mount prances past a dark sward that appears patterned with what might be a turf maze. I’ve always loved this mystery at the heart of the painting, and I borrowed the notion of it for Green George, though my maze is of the hedged variety. It can be seen only partially, located in the upper left quarter of the painting, laid out like a garden in front of the gate of the pristinely whitewashed castle/fortified walled-town that I conjured from the imposing ruins of Weobley Castle on Gower. The tail of the horse flows up through the composition to the left of the maze like a flaming bush, adding another layer of strangeness to a painting that for many is strange in just about all of its components, not the least of which is the greenness of the saint.
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I concur with Mathijs… and I don’t think “Green George” is a bit “strange,” but one of your finest. It may be large, yet, the person who wanted it for her home sat in the doorway of the gallery for more than an hour before the exhibition opening to insure she had the first shot to purchase it. Remember?!? And, I know that, had she not claimed it so quickly, there were several others who would have dearly loved to have it. Of course, the world wide recession then fell upon us all… but, I like to think that works of such monumental size, effort, and importance will find their rightful homes despite broader economic factors. Call me “Pollyanna,” but that’s what I believe.
I didn’t mean to criticise Green George with the description ‘strange’. I think strange is good, though perhaps it needs to be the right kind of strange!
It’s true that it’s much harder to sell large paintings in the present economic climate. My last, The Rapture, still sits in storage at Martin Tinney’s, unsold despite having been shown. I know these paintings will find their rightful places one day… wherever those places may be… but it is disheartening to make them knowing that for the present, they’ll languish in store-rooms.
As you say, Green George went to an appreciative home, as did nearly all the paintings in that particular exhibition. (Your own included.) I love it when those new homes are private as opposed to public spaces, though the latter have their places in the schemes of things. (And paintings that start in private collections, often later find their ways into public ones.) My own job is to attempt to be unmoved by these matters. I try not to concern myself with what may be the fate of any painting once it’s left my easel and gone into the world, through the day to day realities of making a living have meant that I haven’t made a massively time-consuming, large painting for this exhibition. Later this year, maybe.
Love to you over there, from here in rain-sodden, storm-lashed Wales.
oh, maybe that’s distressing for you, but what fantastic news for me that The Rapture is still available! it’s one of my absolute favorites!!
I think one of your best paintings Clive. It tells a whole story, much to see, all kind of beautiful details, the changing of colours…. Will there be such a masterpiece on your forthcoming exhibition too? Nice to hear your comment on the several details. Thx.
Green George was on my easel for nearly four months. Sixteen weeks of labour with my brushes. Paintings like it are not an everyday occurrence (the last was the Tobias and the Angel painting, The Rapture), and to my eyes such works look better in isolation, rather than crowded into exhibitions. So in answer to your question, there will no Green George in the forthcoming exhibition.
I concur with you, I think it very likely my best, though perhaps that’s not a fair comparison to other works I’ve made. Its size and complexity alone give it star billing, and perhaps an unfair advantage. Put it this way, while I know these large narrative paintings have allure, I wouldn’t want to be limited in my creative life to only ever producing such works. There is pleasure too in the intimate, the small and the simply conceived.
For my forthcoming exhibition, Telling Tales, I’m making narrative paintings. The stories are ones I’ve examined before, including Hervé and the Wolf and Kevin and the Blackbird. But the main thrust of the work is based on my two music/theatre projects of last year: The Soldier’s Tale and The Mare’s Tale. Both subjects were ripe for being taken in new directions at the easel, and right now I’m deep into the story of Soldier Joseph and his unwitting pact with the Devil. Stravinsky’s music is a constant presence in the studio, and I feel as though what I’m making is as much a response to him as to the text by Ramuz. It’s also been an opportunity to make and offer some small works. Not everyone has the space for a Green George.
Lovely, as always, to hear from you, Mathijs.