In the new Spring exhibitions at Halifax’s Dean Clough Galleries Denis Bowen displays the type of psychedelia appropriate to a Pink Floyd or Magma cover but this is so much more than mere illustration. The large scale paintings have elements of abstract expressionism but what strikes you most is the ethereal use of globes be it as solar eclipses, full moons or in ellipsis the crater of a volcano. His colourism emphasises this with some rich red for the earth’s larva, gold for beautiful dappled light effects, and black backgrounds, elsewhere the kiss of death, but here of cosmic significance.
The abstraction continues in John Bladwin’s Small and Tiny Paintings that constitute miniature ‘action’ paintings with kaleidoscopic splashes and daubs that are as instantaneous as they are inventive. Some of these may be studies or excerpts from larger works but they have a life and vitality all their own.
Martin Waters’ In Memoriam: Aspects of War gives us a display of some 50.000 poppies alongside a series of collages that are eclectic in their content (though nationalistic iconography prevail) and a form reminiscent of Peter Blake with their carefully cut linearity.
In Allegory Ron Wilson takes on the form of the medieval woodcut and his work is esoteric but with wry comedy too. They are quasi-symbolic on purpose so as not to take themselves too seriously, although at times the humour is very black. They could make up a pack of mystical cards with their simple symmetry and repetitive devices. More than the sum of its parts.
Dean Clough is a veritable TARDIS of culture – from the traditional to new media – and it’s always a pleasure to visit if only for a fleeting encounter with irrepressible curator Vic Allen, my editor for a decade on Artscene, and I just wish more arts professionals had his commitment and discernment. Vive Vic! Vive Dean Clough!
Runs until April 26th, Dean Clough, Halifax