Friday, 16 December 2011

Something Concrete...

'Camberwell Flats By Night', oil on canvas, 199 x 260cms, 1983

In reference to his interest in architecture and buildings, I was discussing with a student the work of painter David Hepher the other day. Hepher is well known for his large paintings depicting various London housing estates, largely populated by looming tower blocks. Over the years he has moved from an almost photo-realist style to something more traditional and painterly, but with his use of graffiti layered on top of the images, and by now actually painting on concrete too instead of canvas they seem very modern. I really like them, and they are a good reference for my current interest in the ‘edgelands’ that I had forgotten about, despite admiring his work for many years.

'Durrington Towers III', oil on concrete, 210 x 150cms, 2007

Hepher was the Head of Painting at The Slade until retiring fairly recently. He was also the External Examiner for my MA Course at Norwich School of Art, so I found myself being interviewed at key points in my course about my own work. He had a very professorial manner about him. He would sit there cross-legged, notepad on knee, listening intently as you rambled on. A friend said it felt a bit like going to the doctor. I felt it was more like confessing your sins.

He had a genuine air of authority though that you had to respect. I remember after talking at length with him about a large painting I had just made, he got up to leave and then turned and said, ‘It’s a good painting, though’, and nothing made me feel like I had gotten somewhere as these words. It just seemed to mean something more to me on a deeper level than anything else I had been told that year.

Anyway, here is a link to a video that accompanied his recent exhibition at Flowers East. He is seen in his studio, discussing his practice and painting.

Interestingly, he talked about how traditional his methods of depiction are, but not his subjects, and when he was younger the debate in studios and galleries was always about how you painted not what you painted. Style was everything. Not so for Hepher, who was always much more lead by his subject matter. As someone who for the last ten or so years has been more interested in style over subject, I found this resonated with my own current thinking. As the new year approaches I’m trying to get to grips with working with more particular subject matter again and try to move my painting practice away from concerns preoccupied with style on to newer territories…to the edgelands.

1 comment:

Ilaria said...

Excellent video, thank you for sharing