Sunday, February 24, 2013

A trip to Egypt; thanks; thoughts; Morocco


  A view of Richmond from Ham, oil on card, 13 x 9.5 cm

Rose Issa will be showing the Egyptian pochades at the Dubai Art Fair, others were taken by the Union Gallery, Edinburgh. 


I regard the quality of work from this trip as markedly higher than from the Italian trip that preceded it in September 2012,  and on the same level as the week in Serrana, at the end of 2012.

Why so? In Italy I experimented with larger sizes of pochades- the result was often to disperse a certain concentration that a smaller picture can direct. There was an additional problem, which was that I was not visually surprised by Italy: a condition that nullifies creativity.


I want to thank those who helped me on this trip: Rose Issa, Chris and Anci, Lise Colyer, my parents, the staff at the Victoria Hotel, Cairo and, the two nice German couples -one in Luxor the other in Aswan- who, perhaps unknown to them, cheered me up immensely  when I thought things were going pear shaped.


The next trip will be to Uruguay, followed, most likely, by Morocco and the UK.


Ham House in Winter, oil on card, 9.5 x 11.2 cm


Saturday, February 23, 2013

A trip to Egypt: Aswan, part 2: the town; painting cities


Aswan- behind the Keylany Hotel, oil on card, 13 x 11 cm Not for sale 

Aswan, looking down from the Keylany Hotel restaurant, oil on card, 16 x 12 cm

Aswan- parked cars, people, sun, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm

Aswan, shops, people, sun, oi lon card, 10 x 12 cm

Aswan- near the station, a shop and an entrance, oil on card, 12 x 15 cm

This is the final selection from Egypt and the town of Aswan, parts of which have an almost soviet feel, in terms of architecture and street planning.

Chaos and colour are much more inspiring than sobriety and order, however. Mess is revealing, order disguises.

 The best painting cities for me combine disorder, with good light, and interesting topographical features, such as hills, or rivers or canals. It helps if they have a variety of architectural styles, but this ins not very important for me

More important is if the industries or trades that are practised in that city can be seen publicly- stalls selling things, clothes being repaired, food being cooked, ships loaded or unloaded, and so forth (I once read that London never managed to produce the array of photographers that Paris did in the 30s, with Doisneau, Kertesz, Cartier Bresson and Brassai, because London life is so much more private and interiorised than Parisian life, and so much less enjoyable to photograph- an example being how the London pub is an enclosed space where the Parisian cafe is open to view by the general public. I am not sure if this argument really stands up to analysis, however, since there was surely no shortage of street markets, children playing street games and sports events, etc in London in the 20 and 30s).

 Good painting cities also have to be safe places with ready access to public spaces.The people should be pleasant and respect one while one is working.

Rio is a good painting city, but it is unsafe. London lacks consistently good light, and its people conduct their trades (which are often visually uninspiring,) on computer screens behind closed doors. Italian cities are often sanitised- Catania and Naples, of the places I`ve been are exceptions). Egyptian cities are good in most aspects but spoiled by hassle, which is why I worked so often for roofs and cafes, safe from sellers.


Friday, February 22, 2013

A trip to Egypt: Aswan, part 1: the Nile


Following the Nile south by train and arrived in Aswan, the Nubian city and the most likeable of my Egyptian destinations, with a more laid-back atmosphere, and much less agressive salespeople.

Much of my time was spent painting the Nile, sometimes from the terraces of the magnificently restored Cateract Hotel:

Aswan- a cove, from the Cataract Hotel, oil on card, 14 x 12 cm  SOLD

Aswan, a moored boat, oil on card, 12 x 9 cm  SOLD

Aswan, from the terrace of the Cateract Hotel,, oil on card, 12 x 10 cm  SOLD

Aswan- a view from the Cateract Hotel, oil on card 12 x 14.5 cm  SOLD

Aswan, boats on the Nile, late afternoon, oil on card, 14 x 12 cm

Aswan, evening on the Nile, oil on card, 14 x 13 cm  SOLD

Aswan, the Nile, oil on card, 14 x 13 cm

Aswan- evening from the Nile Hotel, oil on card, 14.5 x 13 cm

This was painted from the Nile Hotel:

Aswan- felucca on the Nile, oil on card, 12 x 10 cm

I worked from Kitchener`s Island, a little island donated to the famous general following his Sudan Campaign, where he began a collection of tropical plants.

Aswan- from Kitchener's Island, oil on card, 11 x 9 cm

Aswan- the sun from Kitchener's Island, oil on card, 14 x 10.5 cm

The sunset pictures were something of a departure for me towards a more Fauvist style, and most enjoyable to do- the scenes evoked Debussy.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

A trip to Egypt: Luxor


Fifteen from Luxor

 I took the sleeper train from Cairo and arrived in Luxor twelve hours later, staying at the Susanna Hotel.

I painted several pictures from its roof terrace. The weather was uncharacteristically cool, the sky overcast. 

The Winter Palace from Hotel Susanna, oil on card, 12 x 9 cm  SOLD

Th Protestant Church from Hotel Susanna, oil on card, 11.5 x 9 cm

The two above are among the best pictures I have ever painted. They have the right sort of balance between spontaneity and fluency, and show curiosity.

Luxor- the Coptic Cathedral, oil on card, 10.5 x 12 cm  SOLD

 Luxor- the Nile from Susanna Hotel, oil on card, 13 x 10 cm  SOLD

I enjoyed sitting at in the beautiful gardens of the Winter Palace, a wonderful colonial pile, and seeing the boats on the Nile.

Luxor- the gardens at The Winter Palace, oil on card, 8 x 10.5 cm

 Luxor- the Nile, oil on card, 13.5 x 10 cm  SOLD

 Luxor- a boat on the Nile, oil on card, 9 x 12.5 cm

Luxor- feluccas, oil on card, 12 x 15 cm

I crossed the river and worked on the East bank.

 Luxor- a mosque, oil on card, 12 x 15 cm  SOLD

 Luxor, a smallholding on the East bank, oil on card, 12 x 15.5 cm  SOLD

Luxor- a view from the east bank, oil on card, 14 x 8.5 cm  SOLD

Luxor- a village on the east bank, oil on card, 14 x 10 cm

Luxor, the east bank, houses, oil on card, 11.5 x 16 cm  SOLD

 Karnak- an obelisk, oil on card, 10 x 8 cm  SOLD

I went to the famous sites but I didn't do much work there, mainly because because you feel like a precessed cheese in them, and I`m more interested in our contemporary mess, in  less mediated  places.

The light in Luxor is enchanting, teasing sometimes with pearly effects, then with strong fiery colours. What makes painting less enjoyable there is the constant harrying from salespeople, taxi dreivers and children (who sometimes throw stones) forcing one to work from cafes or restaurants.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Two works on show in Edinburgh, Scotland at the Royal Scottish Academy.

Valparaiso- Cerra Belavista will be on display at the 116th Annual Exhibition of Scottish Artists in the Royal Academy on The Mound, Edinburgh, from the first to the 24th March this year.

A View of the Mountains in April will be shown at the 2013 Visual Arts Scotland Exhibition, in the Royal Scottish Academy Lower Gallery, over the same dates as above.

A folding chair and an open book

A folding chair and an open book, oil on card, 14 x 14 cm

Like beds, chairs seem rarely to have been used as artists as motives: I can only think of van Gogh`s wonderful pictures.

Perhaps you can think of some others?

A trip to Egypt: Cairo


 Nine from Cairo, in their carriers

 Cairo: a street, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm  SOLD

 Cairo is a fine messy polluted annoying place  for painting. There is a good range of different styles of buildings and the sense of being somewhere that matters.

I painted in various places: I worked from hotels, I visited the pyramids in Giza across the river, and I looked at churches and mosques from the Citadel area and from the Coptic neighbourhood.

 Cairo- from Ismaili House Hotel, oil on card, 15 x 12 cm  SOLD

This hotel had splendid views. I stayed there on the first night, it is behind Tahir square. But it is fillthy, so I moved to another, the splendid Victoria Hotel, where the manager kindly permitted me to work from the roof.

 Cairo, apartments,  painted from the Victoria Hotel, oil on card, 12.5 x 14 cm  SOLD

 From the Victoria Hotel, Cairo, oil on card, 11 x 14 cm  SOLD

Above is my hotel window, and below is the view at night.

 Nocturne, Cairo, 8 x 10 cm, oil on card

Cairo- a view from the roof of the Victoria Hotel, oil on card, 12 x 8 cm  SOLD

I visited the pyramids: the light shifting across them is a wonderful thing to watch. I want to return.

Pyramids, and the city.oil on card, 12.5 x 14 cm

A pyramid, Giza, oil on card, 14 x 11 cm  SOLD

I saw the Coptic Cathedral and churches:

Cairo, Coptic Cathedral, oil on card, 10 x 14 cm  SOLD

And I painted mosques in and around the Citadel:

 Cairo, inside a Mosque, oil on card, 14 x 14 cm  SOLD

 Cairo, Mosque, oil on card, 11.5 x 13.5 cm  SOLD

Mosque painted from the Citadel, Cairo, oil on card, 12.5 x 9 cm  SOLD

Finally, here is Cairo from the parking area below the citadel:

Cairo- a view from the Citadel, looking south, oil on card, 16 x 11 cm  SOLD

And here, to end, is the Nile:

Cairo, the Nile, oil on card, 11 x 15 cm  SOLD

I spent a week in Cairo, but one could spend a lifetime. it isn't an easy city- it`s polluted and messy and very noisy.

 But it is extremely interesting, and it is cheap to visit now, given that Egypt`s years of political crisis have devastated the tourist industry.  So I regret that I didn`t have time to do more than scrape the surface.