12 September - 07 October 2012
We were introduced to Alex Uxbridge last year and since then have visited his studio first in London, and latterly in Wiltshire to where he has recently moved. What strikes you about Alex's painting is his unique narrative style and his attention to detail in a rather childlike manner. His work is engaging and compelling and we very much look forward to presenting this exhibition.
(please note all work will be posted on the website within the net 10 days)
At first glance, Alex Uxbridge’s latest landscapes depict the British countryside with his customary simplicity. In oils and watercolours, rows of slate-grey waves fill the canvas; clouds chase across blue skies and boats with spindly masts bob in the placid blue waters of a harbour. Tiny, Lowry-like figures add to the folkish, naive quality of his art.
Yet look again and a more mysterious element emerges. Far from being pastoral idylls, Alex’s paintings are underpinned by seriousness, or what John Russell Taylor has detected as a ‘melancholy’ that impels us to explore them more closely. In Waves, Lighthouse icy waves splinter against rocks with a tangible ferocity while the tumbling green contours of the Conway Valley in Spring are stained with ominously dark shadows. Instead of appearing serenely at home, like Poussin’s figures in a landscape, his characters are dwarfed by their surroundings: the lone walker and their dog in The Coast at Twilight might at any moment by engulfed by the waves. It as if the artist, as writer Jane Hill has observed, ‘sees man as a grain of sand in the scheme of things.’
The changeability of the English weather draws Alex to landscape painting. All the seasons are here: the rain-slicked beaches of winter or a springtime blue sky scattered with soft clouds. To capture this shifting scenery, Alex favours the Impressionist plein-air style of working outdoors in all weathers. ‘Cows knock over easels,’ he says, ‘winds blow across canvasses: it’s part of the mechanics of landscape painting.’ Brushes, palette knives, finger tips and even forks all contribute to the directness of the final effect.
Contrastingly, more surreal paintings such as My Summer Dream or Poacher’s Van were painted in the studio. Their narrative content recalls the murals by Rex Whistler at Plas Newydd, the stately home in Anglesey where Alex (the Earl of Uxbridge) grew up in the 1950s. Describing the murals Alex says; ‘The invented dream landscape was full of half-suggested stories: the book and reading glasses left on a step... a boy running near a fruit shop with a probably stolen apple in his hand. These tales were always talked about in my childhood.’ A delightful Norman Parkinson photograph of a pyjama-clad Alex, taken in front of the mural in 1953, now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.
Other paintings in the exhibition depict the softer terrain of Wiltshire where Alex recently moved to. The landlocked scenery provides a challenging contrast to his native Anglesey. ‘As an artist you have to take time to build an emotional connection with the landscape,’ he observes.
Born in 1950, Alex read PPE at Oxford. After a spell in publishing he founded the Poster Shop, retailing Fine Art Posters, in 1979, before studying art at the Byam Shaw School of Art in the late 1980s.
Please call the gallery for a full colour catalogue and price list. All work is for sale on receipt of catalogue prior to commencement of show.