‘Brushes with Greatness’ exhibition
On Friday 2nd December at 5pm, Private & Public Gallery will launch a Christmas exhibition with new works by three genuinely outstanding local artists. New paintings by David Henley and sculptures by Michael Gautron & William Romeril.
Christmas preview evening and drinks reception on Friday 2nd December from 5-8pm.
The exhibition runs until Friday 23rd December and is open weekdays from 12-6pm and on Saturdays from 10am-3pm.
About the exhibition Gallery Director Chris Clifford says; “In January I visited to David Henley’s studio to review his latest paintings. It was a cold, drizzly afternoon and having arrived in the fading light I left in complete darkness.
This is not, of course, a reflection of how the meeting went because to spend time in David’s company is a great joy. He is kind, considerate and deeply knowledgeable about art history and his studio practice. The warmth that I felt that afternoon was also a reflection of the rich tonal ranges that he elegantly captures within each painting. His love and understanding of colour is perhaps his defining characteristic as an artist but I did have one burning question that took me a while to summon up the courage to ask, “Why are your paintings so small?”
We talked around the subject for over an hour until I felt we’d both reached the same conclusion. If we were to collaborate then it was going to be a case of either go big or go home! As I drove away into the night I wasn’t entirely sure what would come of it so I made a file note the next morning to call David in August to see how this new approach had unfolded.
My next studio visit could not have been more different from the first. In 30 degree pure summer heat I entered the warm studio to find a series of large canvases packed with colour and exuberant life. This was a genuinely exhilarating encounter and it was obvious that David has relished the opportunity to regain some pomp and swagger with the paintbrush.
Over a cold drink the conversation soon turned to the French Post-Impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard who is one of David’s favourite painters and is celebrated for his intense use of colour, especially over large areas built with varying sized brush marks and often opposing tonal values. Bonnard’s complex compositions, typically of sunlit interiors and gardens populated with friends and family members, are both narrative and autobiographical and the artist’s fondness for depicting intimate scenes of everyday life led to him being called an ‘Intimist’.
Bonnard was described, by his own friends and historians as a man of “quiet temperament” and one who was unobtrusively independent which in many ways is how I’ve now come to understand the artistic life of David Henley. Henley, like Bonnard, has produced paintings over the course of his career that follow a steady line of creative development which is why I feel very pleased to commend this exhibition to you at Christmas.
For me the paintings of David Henley are at their very best when they find an unusual vantage point within the composition which relies less on traditional modes of pictorial structure than voluptuous colour and poetic allusions. It’s not just the colours that radiate there’s also the heat of mixed emotions, rubbed into textures, shrouded in chromatic veils and intensified by unexpected spatial conundrums.
But perhaps more than anything each landscape depicted on canvas is deeply personal to the artist and you can quickly begin to understand that David Henley has a deep seated and intrinsic love of his island home.
This is something that can also be said of the hugely talented sculptor Michael Gautron who initially trained as a stonemason before experimenting with stone carving and making small sculptures in granite.
His enthusiasm and technical proficiency led to him produce a series of extremely beautiful sculptures which consistently attracted first prize at the Jersey Eisteddfod.
Michael now has his own studio in Jersey and undertakes large scale commissions across a range of materials and more recently has started to work in stainless steel. Fascinated by nature and the animal kingdom the artist is in high demand due to the outstanding quality of his craftsmanship.
The other outstanding craftsman we are delighted to be showcasing once again is William Romeril who studied Goldsmithing, Silversmithing and Jewellery at UCA graduating in 2019. Awarded the runner up for the New Designer of the year in award in 2019 for his final collection William has since developed and expanded his practice to include bronze, and silver.
This collection of work was awarded the Designer Nation One Year In award 2022. These works are one off castings with expressive faces and textured bodies, the pieces reflect a very human struggle with purpose and existence”.