ACCLAIMED local artist Don Faulkner’s exhibition at the Lansdown Gallery in Lewes opens today and continues until June 13.
Simon Jenner writes: You only have to see the (often yellow-backed) protean spikes of early Graham Sutherland, the flatter reliefs of Collins (figures less Gordian, more decorative) and the impasto’d pastorals of Palmer – froths of hallucinatory light – to see that Faulkner swerves wildly from the 1940s, just as say Lucian Freud takes from Ayrton and Minton then thickens into his hyper-realist self. Bacon took a different route through Sutherland. We owe the neo-Romantics far more than we know. First up, an early Faulkner roots here an expressionist handling of a hanged man’s cry (‘Where There is Life There is Hope’). The rest is as good.
There‘s an ‘If’: Faulkner’s range makes him less predictable, though his sheer character coheres in elegant variations: realist portraits, feathering and flaking (‘Arthur and Victoria’); pointillist care in the drawings too (eg of Darwin’s great-grand-daughter Ursula Mommens); vibrant pastorals responding to the above pressures, live in a kind of amniotic fluid, images swirl in levels like a sunset seen through a block of ice (‘Sussex Under Crescent Moon’). These anchor landscape as if it’s a seabed: never quite scraping it (‘Moonlit Landscape’). What Faulkner extrapolates is ‘inscape’ (Gerard Manley Hopkins’ term) of things. Eschewing caricature in portraits, the essential Faulkner does though manipulate paint and landscape more ruthlessly to a pained ecstasy.