Serendipity has brought this one out of the pile right after Picturing People and the two sit rather comfortably together.
In Tom Hammicks’s work, figures sit in front of landscapes that range from his native southern England to the maritime provinces of Canada. Once again, these are not conventional portraits and the “figures” can be both human and inanimate, sometimes dominating, sometimes elaborating the scene. Set beside Charlotte Mullins’ work, this emphasises the wide variety of figurative work (in the widest sense) that prevails at the present time. If you can afford both, you’d want to shelve them together.
I’ve quoted the subtitle because it presents an immediate challenge – not unlike the paintings in question. Julian Bell elaborates at the beginning of the introduction: Only Looking. “You look out. A wall stops your vision … there is glass. Beyond the glass, maybe another wall. But sooner or later your eyes reach the horizon … beyond which they cannot go. You know the world goes on … the world is always more than you can see.” This rather elegantly captures the essence of Tom Hammick’s work and certainly explains, for the new viewer, both how to look as well as how to see.
This is a perceptive account of the work of an intriguing and influential painter and teacher whose work asks many questions and often only hints at what may be the answers.
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