Friday, July 9, 2010

A quiet street

A quiet street, oil on card, 10.2 x 14.2 cm

I had originally intended to title the picture "a boring street". I'd walked past it and thought, how spectacularly dull, I must try to paint it!, but of course as soon as I came here with my easel and started looking the more I found of interest. The little road leads to various research institutes each featuring rather anonymous buildings and, as with many academic institutions, there is a very particular atmosphere of "hush". The road curves round, undulating slightly.

This is one of the oddities of boring things: that is, when you start studying boring things they very quickly stop being boring. Martin Parr's collections of "Boring Photographs" illustrate this very plainly.

There is a tense stillness in paintings by Alfred Sisely, especially apparant in his paintings of floods at Port-Marly. This is one of the most Sisely-ish pictures I've done for a while.

Of the Impressionists, I feel the greatest connexion with Sisely: he isn't syrupy, like Renoir, or heavy like Pissarro, and he doesn't have Monet's inclination towards epiphany (which I don't give two hoots about, not having any mystical instincts whatsoever). His sensibility seems plainly British: phlegmatic and free from melodrama and I love the sense of harmony in his works, which usually are constructed using a simple grid system.

The theme of silence, of boredom is very late nineteenth century: I suppose it relates to the often idle leisure class of the time and its evasion of social responisbilities.

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