Richard Gorman | Living through paint(ing)

by | 28 Mar, 2023

Living through paint(ing) is Richard Gorman’s first solo exhibition in Hugh Lane.

This exhibition of paitings by Richard Gorman honor’s the age-old stability of painting without falling into the trap of a frozen academicism. Gorman has a keen and orginal vision, a painter’s predicament, which develops both a personal conservatism and a personal radicalism.

Gorman basic challenge, the manipulation of colours, forms and metaphorss on a flat plane follows his very personal insights and intentions. Every time we look at a Richard Gorman painting one can ask what is it and what does it mean? A common assertion that ‘they mean nothing and are autonomous from reality’ – only made of colours and forms – is just plain crude and lazy. It is true they are not abstractions in the sense they are not a reduction of pictorical means with a reference to figurative content, nor are they to be interpreted as portraits of psychological states, such as those of the artists.

To say they are autonomous from reality is to misunderstand his work. Gorman wants to move beyond the old conversation about the death of painting, the long history of tradition or the return of painting – to a highly personal, subjective approach. He cuts straight through the reductive formal strategies that are all too often said to be Matisse’s central gift to twentieth-century art, and recovers Matisse’s concern with painting as a symbolist experience.

Painting, which took the brunt of art criticism for many years, has taken a back seat in contemporary art and every serious painter is aware of this. Which is not to say that painting is dead: excellent paintings have continued to come forth from unexpected places. Concrete Paintings such as these do emanate something from themselves, they engage the beholder, and the viewer reacts to the question they pose. Nearly everybody now agrees that the pontifical Clement Greenberg brief for the absolute of painting, a brief for the figure and plane with pigment applied, paid far too little attention to the varieties of idiosyncrasies that painting can hold.

“Gorman looks for the simplicity of shapes and the brightness of oil colours. Standing at his paintings means being in front of a theatrical setting where the geometrical elements interact with the canvas or paper surface. In his artworks, it is possible to affirm that painting becomes a spatial art made up of fragmented and overlapped outlines. Thus, they create an illusive space which takes form with the use of his bold colours” – Valeria Ceregini

Livin through paint(ing) (9th March – 20th August 2023, Dublin IE).

Website: Hugh Lane

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