NIGEL BUXTON – Faces & Folds – 12 July-5 August
Various obsessions are in play with this latest work: my life long fascination with the painting of C14th and early C15th Flanders, the role played by drapery throughout the old master period and various characters who appear in these works, some known others anonymous.
One of the faces is contemporary and lives here in Christchurch and another is that of Emily Dickinson, the American poet. This latter is taken from an early daguerrotype, the only known image of her. Further people who feature are ‘Gilles’ from the famous portrait by Jean-Antoine Watteau of 1718-20 in the Louvre and ‘Lady with a Fan’ by Diego Velazquez in The Wallace Collection London. The other faces who have been mined from those Flemish masters are ‘Portrait of a Young Girl’ by Petrus Christus c.1470 in the Staatliche Museen Berlin, and a ‘Portrait of Maria Maddalena Baroncelli’ by Hans Memling in the Metropolitan Museum New York. The Madonna as featured in ‘The Donne Triptych’, also by Memling, appears and Leonardo da Vinci’s angel in the painting ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ is here also. These works live in the National Gallery in London. There’s another version of this latter work in The Louvre in Paris.
Drapes or drapery is an interesting component in western painting and plays an astonishingly large part in the pictorial, compositional and dramatic action. It seems to be the go-to place for the artist to flex their painterly muscles and forms some of the most astonishing displays of virtuosity to be seen in so many works from this and later periods. The works in this show combine these two elements and hence the title Faces and Folds.
An interior featuring the ubiquitous sash window, a light bulb, clouds, and in some instances a view of a landscape through the window is where the action takes place. They are all situated in South Canterbury.
Finally a note on the method: often the works are composed on the computer using photographs taken of the various elements which feature in them. These are then printed out as a laser print the toner of which is released onto a slightly absorbent surface of a panel prepared with gesso. Some elements of this are apparent in the finished work. This forms the basic template which is then worked and changed as required.