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John Virtue

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John Virtue, New Works

April 16 - May 26, 2015

The Hughes Gallery is excited to announce our first exhibition of important English artist John Virtue in April 2015. 'New Works' presents a powerful body of paintings on paper and canvas depicting England's North Sea. Virtue has always taken great inspiration from his surroundings, immersing himself in the landscape he inhabits. This has encompassed moorland in Lancashire, estuary in Devon, and the skyline of London, all etched out in Virtue's characteristic black and white.

For the past six years Virtue has lived by the North Sea, at the most easterly point in England. In March 2009 he began on the series of paintings which feature in this exhibition, and which he continues to work on today. Virtue was immediately captivated with this area; the view of the sea from Blakeney Point was enough to convince the artist to move from Italy to Norfolk, and he still completes an eight-mile walk from Cley, along a 'thin shingle strip' to this point each week. It is on this walk that that the artist garners his inspiration, making 'lots of drawings in little books' that he turns into larger works during the week in the studio.

These are not realistically depicted snapshots of a single point in time, and nor are they meant to be. In a 2005 interview with the Guardian, Virtue stated; "I want to move away from the notion of impression - a cold winter's day in London, for instance. I work right across seasons, time and weather. I'm not interested in capturing a fleeting moment." Indeed while it is hard to pick out specific features of the landscape, the works seem imbued with the essence of the place in which they were created. Compounded by the exclusive use of black and white paint, horizon and foreground, sea and sky merge and the boundaries between figuration and abstraction are blurred. Thick paint and expressive brushwork emphasise the power and energy of the elements. When viewing the works en mass, it is easy to become immersed, along with the artist, in the salt spray and stormy skies of the English coast, and to discover the 'obvious universal meaning' that lead Virtue to this subject.

No. 2 (large)

acrylic on paper
114 x 157 cm

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No. 2 (large)