Saturday, 27 September 2014


National Open Art Exhibition, Somerset House until Oct 25th
Stanley, Oil on linen, 20 x 26cms
'For me, a painting should always be recognisably made of paint – the harmony between the illusion and the reality. I am a figurative painter, working within a British, realist tradition'.

The realism of this work is remarkable. Look at the shadow. Someone famous was supposed to have said - when he first saw John Constable's landscapes - that they were so realistic he needed to wear galoshes. This painting almost needs the same safety warning as a Stanley knife:
  •  Always keep hand clear of blade
  • Always wear safety goggles
  • Always be certain that the cutting material is secured when cutting
  • Always be in a balanced stable position when using a hand tool
It's a trompe-d'oeil, an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion. Reach out towards the picture  - and mind you don't cut yourself. And he manages to keep the illusion while maintaining that  the aesthetic allure of oil paint is central to why I like to leave evidence of brush work, and why I am liberal in the application of paint. . I consider the style of a painting to be important as it acts like a signature, in that it alludes to the artist’s identity.

There is a further paradox. Danny Lyon says 'I spend a lot of time sourcing objects, props and things for my work that have symbolic meaning, but often the most profound objects turn out to be the seemingly banal bits of ephemera in the studio'. So here he has chosen an ordinary,  much-used and down-at-heel Stanley knife. But what is the title of the painting? This ubiquitous yet potentially lethal tool is now named. It's no longer just a brand. And what a name! It resonates with so much: the film comedian Stan Laurel ( Laurel and Hardy ); Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister; Stanley Matthews, said to have been the greatest player ever in English football, and Henry Morton Stanley, reputed to be tops in British cool with his remark on finding the explorer deep in the jungle  'Doctor Livingstone, I presume?'

 The National Open Art Exhibition
Stanley is one of many works of art currently on show in London's Somerset House, short-listed by a distinguished panel in the annual National Open Art Exhibition, now in its 18th year. With prize money of  £60,000, it aims to nurture creative talent from both emerging and professional artists.
You can also see it in Chichester at the Pallant House Gallery from Dec 2 - 14
and at the Minerva Theatre Gallery, Chichester Festival Theatre from Dec 17 - Jan 3
Also back in London at the Works on Paper Fair at the Science Museum from 5-9 Feb

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