THERE are some powerful paintings in Simon Burton’s exhibition at Huddersfield Art Gallery, but the way this show is labelled (or you might say not labelled) is an irritation, to say the least
The idea of this Dialogue series of exhibitions is for the artist to work with pictures from the permanent collection and produce his or her response to them.
But to do this with the present show and the way notes and titles have been given is like a puzzle corner.
A visitor in the gallery while I was there complained bitterly about it.
A public gallery is supposed to appeal to all levels of visitors, and not to present them with awkward problems.
That said, there is some very interesting work on show, from the permanent collection there are paintings like Auerbach’s typically heavily encrusted J.Y.M. Seated, Emily Bland’s Geraniums, and Young Woman Reading a Letter to a Blind Man by Louis Denis Valverlane.
Simon Burton, who lectured at Huddersfield University form 1998 to 2008 before leaving to develop his own work, is a highly-skilled painter who has from his exhibition produced dark, shadowy pictures which are heavy on atmosphere, a prime example being the couple on a rowing boat, The Boat to Ecalpemos.
The titles are enough to give a clue to some powerful floral paintings like Dark Blooms (the ideal flower that is absent from all bouquets). There is an emotive mother and son painting, the lad with a guitar...
The exhibition, Black Swan, Blue Woman takes its title from a book, the Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
Simon thinks that working with pictures from the past recalls art that some people might call passe in these days of contemporary art, but is, in effect, very valuable.
“I have tried to be poetic about it”, he says.
“The exhibition is a lot about looking backwards and forwards, the way paint is applied and the layering of paint”.
The exhibition runs until September 4.