“There is nothing”, says Christopher Andreae in his introduction, “blatantly obvious about the character of Philip Reeves’ art.” At a first glance, this is true. His work moves from the more or less representational to pure abstraction, with strong structural elements underpinning colours and textures. Seeing it all together in this lavish collection, however, does promote understanding of the artist’s central vision. Even when the forms are recognisable and organic, there is still a strong sense of what we might call organisation: viewpoints are carefully chosen and you can never be quite sure that what you see is what was actually there or is an imagined or highly curated version of it.
Reeves was born in Cheltenham, but has lived and worked in Glasgow since the 1950’s, teaching at Glasgow School of Art. It would make an interesting study to work out how teaching affects an artist’s work. Do they, having to explain technique all day, attain a more intimate understanding of the processes they go through? Does their work become more technical, more workmanlike, in the process? It’s no good asking, because every one of them will give a different answer!
Christopher Andreae has built a strong narrative into this book and he charts Philip Reeves’ progress and the development of his style with admirable thoroughness and transparency.
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