En Plein Air: Landscapes from France, 1994 - 2008: Fred Yates

22 January - 21 February 2015

In the early 1990’s Fred Yates lived in Provence, in a small mill house near Beume de Venise. Lacking a car, his painting expeditions to the Provençal hills were usually on foot – or bus if heading to the coast – and demanded a medium that was portable. With oils he could work on a small scale, but it proved a problem to transport the wet canvases back home without ruining the surface. Watercolour dried quickly, could be rolled up for the return journey and, most importantly he could work on a scale that far better suited to his way of painting. Painting dense woods and hillsides on large sheets of paper required compositions that left little area of the paper without a mark. Watercolour taught Fred to dive into the landscape, to paint close up to the foreground and keep away from horizon lines and empty skies; it was a lesson that stayed with him for the next fifteen years and resulted in some of Yates’s most original and complex paintings.


It has been an enormous pleasure to put together this exhibition of Fred Yates’s French landscapes. Over fifteen years, they appeared in sporadic bursts of energy, invariably triggered by his arrival in a new town. Within a year he would tire of his surroundings and his paintings would become more internal, turning to memories or wilder voyages of his imagination. Then he would move and the landscapes would start again. Syncopated by his restless nature these plein air paintings show a steady and dramatic progress in his confidence and skill as a painter. Together they form a powerful and highly original aspect of his art.


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