Francis Hamel – Landscapes 2004-2006
18 May - 9 June 2006Catalogue Introduction by Jane Dowling
Delacroix records a conversation he had with Corot. .He told me to let myself go a little and to allow myself to take things as they come, so to speak. He goes deeply into a subject. His ideas come to him and he develops them as he goes along. This is the right way to work And so it is with Francis Hamel. Here are haunting tree studies, tall oaks branch-charmed by the earnest stars that dream their way into our consciousness; a group centred on water reflections, a river in changing seasons, the Noah's Ark fantasies and finally the work carried through out of doors in all weathers bringing with it a blast of fresh air. The language is, for me, at its most eloquent in Wet Spring Day, The Wooton Road and the seaside studies at Anglesey.
The Father of Modern Painting suggests that a picture acts as a bridge between the sensations of the artist who paints it and viewer who beholds it: a unique structure combining the sensibilities of both. What a profound idea from someone who so much admired the English School! Yet too often we seem to feel that our landscapes call for defensive explanation. Need we apologise for our sensations in front of blue-bells and dandelion seed heads in a Spring wood? Nowadays of course the whole concept of plein-air painting has been debased. We are flooded with the work of amateurs and our perceptions suffer. We pay a price for the current popular notion that anyone can draw and paint. Rigour and seriousness are lost in the sea of self- congratulatory complacency. Small wonder that students are taught that painting of that sort has had its day.
But this too can work for the best. Some painters flourish in an unwelcoming soil. Segregation of artists into enclaves of traditional practice doesn't answer. People need to renew their vision and swim a bit against the tide else they end up with weak muscles.