Acrylic on board, 42 x 59.4 cm. 2021. SOLD Mahler’s huge Eighth Symphony, known as ‘the symphony of a thousand’ after the number of musicians supposed to have taken part in its premiere, is his only purely joyful composition. The symphony is based on two textual sources: the Pentecost hymn ‘Veni Creator Spiritus,’ and the ending of Goethe’s Faust, Part II. The overall theme is the salvation of the heroic individual (Faust) through the combination of his own striving and divine love. The composition of this painting suggests the narrative structure of the symphony: complex earthy forms below, celestial forms above, dark to the left, light to the right, leading the eye upwards. The vibrant yellow explodes out of the painting like the ecstatic joy of Mahler’s Pentecost hymn; the shades of blue recede into the distance, ‘drawing us heavenward’ along with the spirit of Goethe's Faust.
Acrylic on board, 42 x 29.7 cm, 2021. SOLD Poetry is naturally more ‘abstract’ than prose: it doesn’t merely describe; it uses words to evoke thoughts and feelings directly. Abstract paintings use colours in the same way. This painting is an abstract illustration of the opening of the final scene from Goethe’s Faust, Part II: Forests, they sway nearby, Boulders, about them lie, Roots, deep, between them sunk, Trunk pressing close to trunk. Waves on waves here welter, Caves, the deepest, shelter. Lions, with measured grace, Friendly, about us pace, Honour in silent rounds, Love’s consecrated grounds.
Albano's View from the Thunderhouse
Acrylic on board, 59.4 x 84 cm. 2021. SOLD An abstract illustration of Jean Paul Richter's novel Titan. The novel's hero, Albano, contemplates the world from his mountain dwelling—known as the Thunderhouse because, high above the surrounding landscape, it is so frequently struck by lightning. Albano is an idealistic youth who loves life, nature, beauty, truth and humanity, but who is destined to suffer the machinations of friends and enemies alike. The painting is a highly abstract landscape, unsettled and fragmentary. There is a blending of heaven and earth that indicates the blending of ideal and real in Albano's ecstatic vision of the world, and a looseness that indicates both the intensity of that vision and the turbulent times that await him.
Albano in Italy
Acrylic on board, 59.4 x 84 cm. 2021. SOLD Another abstract illustration of Jean Paul Richter's novel Titan. Fleeing the death of his beloved and the political machinations of his compatriots, the hero Albano travels to Italy. Every night he wanders among the ruins of a proud civilization, admires the beauty and grandeur of nature, and reflects on the vacuity of modern life. He dreams of glory and plans to fight in the Napoleonic wars, supposedly the righteous scourge of a decadent Europe. The painting is an abstract nocturnal landscape, intended to evoke the confusion of Albano's desperate vision. The disillusioned idealist sees all that is great and solid falling continuously into disorder; he is obsessed with the mutable and the transient, lending the unbroken stillness of night and the eternal durability of nature a sinister, mocking aspect.
The Errant Schoppe
Acrylic on board, 59.4 x 84 cm. 2021. A third abstract illustration of Jean Paul Richter's novel Titan. Schoppe is friend and mentor to the novel's hero, Albano. A erudite scholar and an incorrigible ironist, his speech is an almost incomprehensible mix of wit, satire and philosophical jargon. As the novel progresses, he becomes increasingly erratic, and reveals to Albano that he is terrified of encountering a physical manifestation of the 'I' - the primordial self which, according to the philosopher Fichte (a contemporary of Jean Paul's) is responsible for the existence of everything in the universe. "One sees this best on journeys," Schoppe says, "when one looks at one's legs, and sees them stride along, and then asks, Who in the world is that marching along so with me down below there? I tell you he is eternally talking with me; if he were once to start up in bodily presence before me, I should not be the last to grow weak and deadly pale." In spite of his fears, Schoppe is committed to unravelling the deceits that surround Albano's life, and journeys far and wide with his trusty wolf-dog in search of evidence. The painting is an attempt to evoke the mind of Schoppe as he marches long distances with only his dog for company, surrounded by the grandeur of nature and seeing the sinister 'I', godlike projection of his own self, lurking behind every natural form, threatening to appear and unravel reality.
Acrylic on board, 42 x 29.7 cm, 2021. Anther abstract depiction of the final scene of Goethe’s Faust, Part II. The hermit Pater Profundus, ensconced in a mountain wilderness, is bewildered by the surging forces of nature: Round me blares a wild commotion, Earth and woodland seems to spasm! Yet the waters with devotion, Fall abundant down the chasm, Feeding plains below the steeps: So the surging lightnings blaze, To clear the atmosphere that keeps Unto its bosom fumes and haze; Love’s envoys these, they loud proclaim What, all-creating, us does hold. My inward core likewise inflame, Wherein my vital spirits, cold Behind dull senses twist and strain, In chainbound tortures wince and smart: O God! please pacify my brain, Enlighten my impoverished heart!
Acrylic on board, 21 x 19.4 cm. 2020. A painting inspired by Arthur Hugh Clough's unfinished ‘Fragments of the Mystery of the Fall,’ a poetic drama in which Adam, Eve and their offspring struggle to come to terms with the novelty of human existence. Adam thinks the family ought to spend less time worrying about their supposed ‘fall,’ and more time working to improve their situation. But his repressed guilt surfaces occasionally in violent fits. An excerpt of the poem: Misery, oh my misery! O God, God! How could I ever, ever, could I do it? Whither am I come? where am I? O me, miserable My God, my God, that I were back with Thee! O fool! O fool! O irretrievable act! Irretrievable what, I should like to know? What act, I wonder? What is it I mean? O heaven! the spirit holds me; I must yield; Up in the air he lifts me, casts me down; I writhe in vain, with limbs convulsed, in the void. Well, well! go idle words, babble your will; I think the fit will leave me ere I die.
Acrylic on board, 21 x 19.4 cm. 2020. Another painting after Arthur Hugh Clough's unfinished 'Fragments of the Mystery of the Fall.' An excerpt of the poem: Ah, me! alas! alas More dismally in my face stares the doubt, More heavily on my heart weighs the world. Methinks The questionings of ages yet to be, The thinkings and cross-thinkings, self-contempts, Self-horror; all despondencies, despairs Of multitudinous souls on souls to come, In me imprisoned fight, complain and cry. Alas! Mystery, mystery, mystery evermore.
Manfred on the Jungfrau
Acrylic on paper, 36.5 x 26.5 cm. 2021. An abstract illustration of act 1, scene 2 of Byron’s Manfred, in which the hero contemplates the alps from the cliffs of the Jungfrau mountain: The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury, Like foam from the roused ocean of deep Hell, Whose every wave breaks on a living shore, Heaped with the damned like pebbles.—I am giddy.
Symphony No 1 (Tippett)
Acrylic and ink on paper, 26 x 36.4 cm. 2021. SOLD This painting was inspired by Michael Tippett’s First Symphony. In my mind it evokes, like much of Beethoven’s music, a heroic optimism, like a cavalry-charge of joy. I’ve tried to convey an equivalent dynamism in this painting, space-warping light-forms on the left breaking through and toppling the jumble of more solid-looking forms on the right. Tippett was a ‘child of our time,’ deeply shaken by the cataclysm that was the twentieth century. In his music, unlike in Beethoven’s, the joy is never hale and hearty. Perhaps for that reason, the colours in this picture are sickly and dissonant, streaked through with veins of rust or dry blood red.
The Sacrifice of the Prisoner (Wellesz)
Acrylic on paper, 26.5 x 36.5 cm. 2021. This painting illustrates ‘The Sacrifice of the Prisoner,’ an operatic retelling of Mayan legend by Egon Wellesz. The opera celebrates the glory of losing. A great prince is defeated in battle and taken to be sacrificed by the victorious King Hobtoh. In a series of ritual dances, he is allowed to sample the king’s finest luxuries. He defiantly spurns them all; the more the king’s people are offended, the more highly they esteem him for his bravery. After solemnly dancing in honour of his homeland, he is sacrificed and acclaimed by everyone. The painting evokes the moment of the sacrifice, a potent mixture of peace and violence in which the prince bids farewell to the mountains of his homeland and calmly embraces his fate.
The Mount of Olives (Dusk)
Acrylic and ink on paper, 25.9 x 17.1 cm. 2020. Accompanied by a stanza from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem ‘Nondum’: And still the abysses infinite Surround the peak from which we gaze. Deep calls to deep, and blackest night Giddies the soul with blinding daze That dares to cast its searching sight On being’s dread and vacant maze.
The World is Deep
Acrylic on board, 42 x 29.7 cm, 2021. SOLD An illustration of ‘Zarathustra’s Roundelay’ from Friedrich Nietzsche's Also sprach Zarathustra: Mortal, stand to! What does deep midnight say to you? “I slept, did sleep—, Now waken from deep dreams anew:— The world is deep, Much deeper than day ever knew. Deep is her woe—, Joy – deeper far than misery: Woe says: no! But joy wants deep eternity—, —wants endless, deep eternity!”
Study from Nature
Acrylic and ink on paper, 26 x 17.8 cm. 2020. SOLD The complexity of nature is a source of inspiration for all of my paintings. A medley of abstracted natural colours and forms, with no clear organisation or scale.
Out of gallery
A representative selection of paintings completed within the last 6 months. Click for information.