This guide to the life and work of Patrick Heron – regarded by many as one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest artists – has been published to coincide with what the blurb describes as a major retrospective at Tate St Ives and the Turner Contemporary, Margate. Having seen the exhibition, I’d say it’s more of an easily-manageable introduction to the artist’s work but that it is, in many ways, all the better for it.
Patrick Heron can be a bit of a challenge for the newcomer. Look for objects and themes and you won’t necessarily find them. I was immensely aided by the show’s notes, which helpfully tell us that, for Heron, the image was the image and that shapes and edges are not just more important than representation, but the work’s raison d’être itself. Knowing that provides an instant way in and it becomes possible to appreciate Heron’s use of format and colour as well as his method of application, often involving small brushes on large canvasses. Splashing paint around, this is not.
I’ve had this book sitting on the shelf for rather longer than I intended, but I’m glad of that because it means I can now say that it’s a fantastic introduction to Patrick Heron’s work as well as his place in relation to the French and American painting that strongly influenced him.
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