T U B E S
art for the 21st century
“After 7 Years and Later”
Whitaker Art Museum - ExhibitionPreview -
the art of Richard Fitton
...inside this issue
Colin Taylor.. the complete article.“through a painted lansdscape”
Elaine Preece Stanley “for the love of art” ...by Dean Entwistle
David Tycho.. essay “The Hundred Years’ Grudge”
André Chahil.. interview article...”is this a real Van Gogh?”
Resident Critic ..Spike... talking about “art, money and photography”
(past and present)
Laurence Cause Parsley
painters in this issue
Elaine Preece Stanley
painters TUBES magazine
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Hello fellow artists and art lovers,
It’s sure been a busy 2019 so far. I’ve been in and out aircraft so many
times that I’m sure I will be invited to the Easijet Christmas party.
Tubes is still undergoing major changes to it’s web site, when finished it
will much improved with direct load-up facilities for artists work, a purpose
designed App that can be downloaded for your devices and much more to
come in the way of the new Tubes Artists Gallery, including a fantastic 3D
VR gallery that looks towards the new century and a global audience.
Launch date for the 3D Tubes Artists Gallery is September 2019.
I am also looking forward to opening the exhibition “After 7 Years and
Later” by Richard Fitton at the Whitaker Art Museum in Rossendale UK on
May the 11th. It promises to be great show with some super new work.
On a more serious note, I feel it’s time I stepped down as Editor of TUBES
and pass on the running of the magazine to my colleagues in Sweden
and the UK. The handing over the reigns has been arranged for
Whoever becomes the next appointed Editor of TUBES in the future, I’m
sure will do a great job and of course I shall be around for any advice that
they may need, well at least for a while, until I finally hang up my quill and
and remain happily creating new paintings in my studio both here at
Studio 5 in Sweden and hopefully at Studio 4 in Greece.
Many thanks to my colleagues for putting up with me for these past years
and my personal thanks to the many excellent artists I have had the
pleasure of interviewing. And the advise and support from the many high
street gallery owners... in more than one country.
All the best to you, as always,
Artist and Writer
“Through a painted landscape”
Part one - “from cut edge to ice shelf.”
by Colin Taylor
“Today our sight is a little weary, burdened by the memory of a thousand images..
we no longer see nature, we see pictures over and over again.”
In January 2018 I knew I would be going to Aysen, a relatively unknown region in central Chile, and part
of Patagonia, to climb, bike and kayak and I thought I might make some paintings about its landscape.
There was nothing unusual about that, I’ve been working that way for a long time now, (in fact I only
paint landscape that I personally experienced) - and each time the same questions re-surface‚.
How do you make paintings of a specific landscape ? Can personal experience transfer across
to visual image? I don’t believe that a landscape painting is just a representation of what you see, (or
rather it shouldn’t be) it is about what you know of that landscape. I’m equally convinced that all we
know cannot be explained and is not limited by simple leaden fact but, rather a multi-layered assembly
of observation, belief and experience mediated through a single image. It follows then that painting is
not a linear process. Neither is it a simple extraction of thought that leads inevitably to a visual
conclusion.But it is a process of finding
things out and long before you pick up a
brush or a piece of charcoal, that process
has already commenced.
“I do not start with the idea, but with the experience.
“ (Quote: Peter Lanyon)
So... back to the climbing trip.
My perception of Patagonia was relatively
well informed as I’d climbed there before
and so had useful experience of a similar
landscape; it’s scale, physicality, climate and
culture. There was also plenty of reading and
online foraging to be done.
Google leads you to lists of various
‘left: Haweswater’ Lake District. 20” x 20” Oil,
acrylic and charcoal on paper ©Colin Taylor
‘adventure travel’ companies extolling the virtues of its sheer size and the fact that it is the least populated
region in Chile having only been settled in the C20.
The term, ‘Destination Management System’ became common parlance in the tourism industry in the
1990’s. A web-based ‘DMS’ became a ‘must have’ for cities and regions who saw themselves as visitor
destinations and their DMS a repository for the independently-minded traveller who could surf around
professionally produced imagery, build a personalised itinerary and select their accommodation prior to
the journey itself. The DMS would be built and managed by the local authority or tourism
partnership and we (at one time, I was employed in that game), would discuss ‘market segmentation’
and ‘visitor data’ until the cows came home; it was a fundamental truism to say that tourism began
at home. Being able to access visual content via the web is of course a recent innovation, (30 years
maybe?). The further back you go, the more inaccessible regions and places could only be reached by
those with either a purpose and/or the means to get there.
In 2018, the Aysen economy is not yet driven by ‘tourism’ and central and regional government is only
just cottoning on to those economic opportunities. The landscape is pristine and undeveloped and because
there have been relatively few reasons to go there, it’s an obvious assumption to make that few
landscape paintings of the region from the first half of the C20, exist.
An interesting parallel might be to compare that with the huge numbers of ‘picturesque’ paintings made
each year of England’s Lake District, and here I should declare includes my own contribution. The correlation
between landscape painting and tourism is an obvious indicator of the maturity of a region’s
economic development and it also speaks about how that landscape has been managed and used by
its indigenous and transient communities. Landscape paintings reflect that broader history, and not just
the picturesque scenery on view and they have nothing to say, except what we say to them.
Is a painting of Haweswater of beautiful scenery? Or is it about its archaeology?
The lack of rainfall during the summer of 2018 exposed that history and invites a completely different interpretation
of any painting made about it. (Google - Mardale Green) Tourism on a mass scale is a post
WW2 phenomenon, and in Britain at least, it coincided with research into new kind of imagery.
For a few short years in the late forties and early fifties
The Borough Group of artists (David Bomberg 1890
- 1957, Cliff Holden (1919 - ), Miles Richmond (1922
-2008), Dorothy Mead (1928 -1975), Dennis Creffield
(1931 - 2018) and others, engaged in a creative laboratory
that acknowledged the deployment of all the
senses, and championed the idea of painting as an
emotive response to the world around them.
Bomberg is the most prominent name, but at the time,
he hadn’t painted a landscape in ten years. After a summer
in a tent in Cornwall, he returned to Andalucia and
found his voice through collaboration and a mutually
productive relationship with his students. However you
rate their creative output, and here I readily acknowledge
my own allegiance, it was a committed’
articulated methodology and produced a focused body
of visual research at a time when there were few,
if any, alternatives.
The problem was that nobody listened to what they had
to say. Kenneth Clark, would publish his broad survey
of the genre, ‘Landscape into Art’ in 1949 and whilst
he declared that the ‘landscape’ had liberated painting
from its former religious obligations, but he offered no
suggestion for its future trajectory. Later in 1956 ’This
is Tomorrow’ the seminal exhibition curated by Bryan
Robertson of the ICA looked across the Atlantic for traction.
With hindsight we know that landscape painting,
as a predominant theme in post WW2 British art would
soon lose its position to be replaced by figuration and
above: ‘Zahara’ by Miles Richamond. 39” x 31”
Oil on canvas. collection of Colin Taylor
For quite some time, I was perfectly content to subscribe
to the to the phrase, that my work was, not an
optical expression, but an emotional one. And I used it
within exhibition material. It evolved out of a friendship
with both Creffield and Richmond and it neatly tidied up
my arts practice in half a dozen words.
“but I couldn’t shake off a nagging doubt that
it was incomplete.”
What was different between their allegiance and my
self-doubt? It was exactly a not a road-to-Damascus
moment but I realised that everything was different.
The philosophical, physiological,
environmental,economic and technological terrain in
which we perceive the landscape in which we inhabit
had shifted irrevocably. If light and matter have a common
factor in ‘experience’ then how is that presented to
above: ‘Sky Blue Cut Edge’ 24” x 18”
Acrylic pastel, charcoal with card relief on linen.
©Colin Taylor 2017.
“Experience is of course, continual and constantly evolving”
A painting about personal experience of landscape leads to something
else which retains traces of the original and communicates
beyond human language.
Just prior to Aysen, my most recent paintings were of a built landscape,
of Manchester’s cityscape. and I’d invested considerably
in looking for a visual solution to the impermanence of a skyline in
constant change. I needed to move away from the cut edge and
sheet glass of the city and this seemed to be a way of making that
My experience of Aysen has been generated by a belief system
and lifestyle inconceivable at the time of the Borough.
I can only see landscape in terms of land management, mass tourism
“The work, the landscape paintings themselves
would come later.”
part one - “Through a painted landscape” was originally written exclusively for
TUBES magazine in 2018 and originally published in issue #10, and issue #11
“Through a painted landscape”
“are there really no straight lines in nature?
by Colin Taylor
Artists often refer to the ‘process’ of painting; the physical act, the ‘doing’ part of making imagery.
It’s also true that whatever form of creative endeavour you choose, (for me its principally painting),
it is itself, a process of responding to human experience using a particular individual language form.
Artists do not suddenly set out to make things; but they do want to understand why they perceive the
world around them in the way they do and so choose a modus operandi that they believe suits that
process. With me, each painting or drawing is merely a bridge between the last painting and the next
and equally important in a continual chain of visual exploration and information gathering.
As I arrived in Patagonia to paint, climb, draw and bike I remembered another climbing trip, that
time to Ecuador, and flying directly into the capital, Quito. I had trained quite hard and was ready to
go and could not understand why it took so much effort to drag my luggage from the plane onto a
taxi and up a few hotel steps. Of course I’d forgotten that you step onto the plane at sea level and
stepped off at 9,000 feet and I was completely un-acclimatised and badly out of breath.
This time, I reasoned in a similar way, that having just spent 3-4 years focusing upon Manchester’s
city centre, it would take time for my work to acclimatize to the pristine, unplanned natural landscape
that I was now experiencing. I’d been used to sheet glass stretched across a steel armature,
structures funnelled into grid-locked tight spaces, pushing skyward and my immediate reaction was
to look for visual clues that might offer continuity of practice.
The first few dabs and dashes completed on the hoof in Patagonia were not properly acclimatised.
There was a definite disconnect between the landscape presenting itself and the developing imagery
on paper. You have to tell yourself to plough on and work through that doubt.
But is what we see… all that there is to see?
‘Projection theory’, was a long-held physiological explanation for the human vision system which in
essence, proposes that visual stimuli project’s an image onto the retina and triggers a direct physical
movement and emotional reaction. It’s easy to understand the eye working as a kind of camera and
‘projection theory’ provides an academic foundation for the analogy. Traditional representational
painted landscapes, (if I can generalise to make a point), might then be perceived as the artists
attempt to render these ‘projections’ into 2D images.
“ even by the time Cezanne was exploring what it felt like to stand on the slopes of Mont St
Victoire, ‘Projection theory’ had already been discredited.”
The German physicist Helmholtz, (1821-1894), had concluded that the eye was quite a basic organ
and incapable of performing many of the tasks previously assigned to it. Helmholtz proposed that
a series of ‘unconscious inferences’, were required to co-ordinate a mechanical response. If our
sensory attributes line up in a certain way, our vision system searches for a veridical explanation
for what we see. The human response to this same constellation of sensory data would always be
constant - a kind of in-built sat nav.
Inevitably, current thinking has moved on further and now much contemporary vision research is
now predicated on the basis that our perceptions are wholly empirically and individually based. As
artists, we do not see everything around us, but we are able to construct a personal explanation
which informs our creative response. If true, then what we see…. is a direct result of who we are
and everything we recognise, both explicit and tacit knowledge.
In the latter stages of the Manchester cityscape series I had increasingly turned to pre-prepared
sheets of painted card, which were cut, mixed together, assembled, overlaid and layered up on
the canvas surface. I attempted to use the painted card used in very much the same way as you
would pigment from a tube, adding, deleting and building up the final image. Perhaps it wasn’t so
surprising that this should the first tool that I instinctively reached out for, even though the subject
matter has changed completely.
Stepping off the plane in Aysen, Patagonia I had already acquired an ‘experience’ of the landscape
I was now starting to re-shape on paper. I had researched a little of its social, geographic and
economic background, I had some useful knowledge from previous visits, albeit not to this region, of
similar terrain and we had an itinerary that had been thoroughly ‘googled’. Personal experience is of
course, a completely different ball game and on this kind of trip, you are so busy taking everything in
it’s often not obvious when to pause and get something down on paper.
I had in mind a series of images that would record both my physical journey and the perceptual
changes running alongside. The process of visual
acclimatisation and eventual suppositions are much more
about the experience of creative output than they are, any
n many ways I see the paintings, drawings (or for that
matter, a piece of writing), as visual punctuations in that
wider ongoing process. It is they that often seem to be the
re-calibration of thought and not the other way around.
At that instant the artwork, just completed, moves centrestage
and becomes a momentary articulation of what I
think I know.
The American philosopher, Susanne Langer, used the
phrase ‘vital import’ to describe the creative combustive
reaction particular to artists, the moment the brain digests
a multi-sensory set of percepts within a single artwork. Any
conclusions are based on past and current experiences
and from learnt responses and it is only our individual
perception of what we alone see, that makes sense.
I don’t regard any of my paintings as literally ‘finished’,
although hopefully they reach a point of resolution where
I can trust them as standalone representations of my
ongoing practice and the term ‘finished’, although not
strictly accurate, is used and the work.… is ‘exhibitable’.
A few never get to that point and are condemned to
limbo-land until I can figure out a way forward. Some are
exhibited, sold, never to be seen again. There are others
(unusual but not rare) that have been exhibited, come back
and then several months or years later, might be re-worked
and shown again.
The other day I laid out all the work produced thus far,
related to this series – approx. 35+ paintings, drawings
and scribbles - all in the order in which they were started.
Some seem to be ‘finished’ and at the time of writing, only
those who fall into this category are reproduced in this
issue. They reflect the transition from built environment to
natural and clearly retain vestiges of that previous enquiry.
A few are in into the ‘probably’ category, but most have a
way to go and I suspect that some will struggle to get over
the finishing line. A few, are still to be started, materially
speaking, but will be well underway by the time this is
Viewed together, does that body of work represent my
experiences in Chile? The background knowledge, my
physiological limitations, beliefs and my capabilities as an
artist all converge on the imagery but, if experience cannot
be seen, then what is it, that I am looking at ? Thinking
back to Cezanne, I’ve always felt that his success was that
top left: “Arroyo verde hielo” Cerro Casatillo.
bottom left: “Via Pueto Ibanez”
top right: “Eestero Parada” #1
bottom right: Cerro Castillo”
all painting ©Colin Taylor 2018
“Through a painted landscape”
This is the third, and final part about a visit to Chile by the artist, Colin Taylor. The first, considered
what was known before the trip. The second was an account of the visual acclimatisation whilst there
and this concluding article, looks back at the body of work that has emerged.
Representing the unpicturable
by Colin Taylor
I read somewhere that the vast majority of art is seen and bought by an urban audience and of
that, the lion’s share of art for sale is landscape painting. There was no source given to justify either
declaration although both sound plausible enough to me. If correct, what is it about this form of
arcadia that excites ‘townies’ so much?
There is a reasonably well accepted perception of a human mannerism common to us all whereby
we understand landscapes as both a thing of beauty and of danger at the same time: ‘Prospectrefuge’
theory compels us to seek out a place from which to observe without being seen, to assess
all around us from a place of safety. This obligation is a little easier to digest as the name might
suggest. For ‘prospect’…read; opportunity, panorama, looking out/across. For ‘refuge’…
read; shelter, a place of safety, familiarity or even a park bench.
Next time you visit a city park or open space, notice how people, those who are not just walking
straight through the space, tend to gravitate towards the perimeter from where they can observe
what is going on within. We feel comfortable looking out across something, knowing that there is
nothing behind to compromise our personal space or what we’re looking at. We can see without
being seen. This leads us to the third term within ‘prospect-refuge’ and that which unites the two
equal aspects of the theory, namely ‘hazard’. This is the inner response we discern looking out from
our place of refuge at what is presented and by which we assess what is there and what should be
Apply this to Burkes definition of the ‘sublime’; in that it terrifies and excites at the same time. It is
this simultaneous twofold proposition that I find the most compelling aspect of landscape painting
and at least partly, why I continue to do what I do.
In painterly terms, it is an observation of somewhere or of something, orientated to convey scale and
distance, rendered as a 2D image, that is representative of, but not only, the landscape.
‘paintings have nothing to say except what we say to them’ (James Elkins)
This is a series of images about the Chilean landscape. However, because only I have direct
experience both of the landscape and of making the images, it is only I who can make that claim with
any certainty. You, the viewer will have to take my word for it, which means that however strongly
you may believe what I say, you can never be certain. Within human physiological limitations, you
will have to use a process of mutual deduction with the painting itself to arrive at your own judgement
of what is represented and thought of as a series ‘outcomes’, rather than solutions.
There is now broad agreement that the human vision system requires the existence of previously
acquired data around which to construct perceptions. This suggests an empirically based and whollyindividual
system whereby the artists personal background, beliefs and capabilities, and experiences
come together and collectively invested within a single artwork. Put another way; what I see is not
what you see. But it isn’t quite enough to say that a painting can represent experience, because
experiences are not just visual transactions, they are ‘un-picturable’ and formless.
They are whatever matters in the images meaning but is not itself, visual. I can recall a few years
back, that in the midst of the misery of altitude sickness, 22,000ft up on a mountain in Argentina,
trying to reason with myself about how (and if) I could embed that experience into a single image.
It was one of those circular conversations with no conclusion, but at its core is a valid unanswered
question that still fuels what I do.
For all its alchemy, I have accepted that there is a limit to what painting as both a process of creative
expression, and as a single image, can do. A flicker of sunlight on water lasts a nano-second and
there are hundreds of flickers happening simultaneously. It is impossible to perceive even one before
another replaces it and even more impossible to reproduce this in paint. So, painters turn to a box
of tricks and select one… a quick dab of white paint added to the surface in a random-like gesture
… representative of the sunlight flickering. Over time this mimetic device has been deployed by
thousands of artists and assumed visual legitimacy although it no more accurately represents what
happened, than any other blob of paint.
There is also, the unimaginable; that which exists outside the experiences and knowledge
of both painter and viewer. For example: Why was perspective, as we know it… not used
by artists from the Indian Mughal period? The answer to this question is another essay
and one I’m not qualified to write.. but the fact remains Mughal artists were not concerned
with creating illusions of space and that visual expedient was not in the toolkit.
Although in the present tense, inconceivable to me as maker and you as viewer, could
the image represent something to someone in the future? There is no doubt it can. We
look at paintings made centuries ago with no first-hand account of why they came into
being all the time, and we re-interpret them based on current known criteria, knowledge
acquired since the time of the artist and not on his/her terms, but, and this is where Elkins
is precise….. on what we ourselves bring to the picture.
When we see an apple in a Cezanne painting, we are simultaneously aware of the painted
surface created by Cezanne and our experience or retrieved memory of apples in the
same instant. According to the philosopher Richard Wollheim (1923-2003), this is the
basis of ‘seeing in’, his theory of representation – something standing for something else
– and that this union is vital to experiencing what is represented in a work of art. Looking
at one of my Chile Paintings, I am reminded of how the image came to be made, some of
the decisions when adding and removing content but I can also retrieve fragments, nanoseconds
of memory, of that experience.
As maker I have the benefit of recall and can explain the content to a useful degree of
accuracy, but to accept Wollheim, then it is critical that the artist is also his own spectator
and the two roles are very different; one retrieves memory and presents the image, the
other perceives and determines what has happened during the creative dialogue.
The antithesis to this is a form of production orientation where the artists objectives are
clear from the outset such as in the example of the artist working (prospect), from a
photographic image (refuge). If that still image is the only information source and if the
artists spectating-self does not challenge then there is no perceived hazard and what
is produced, is simply a another still image, representative of the photo but not of the
landscape. Time and again I look at the work of David Bomberg. I look at a painting
of Ronda in Andalucia and see his brushstrokes forming an image and recall my own
experiences of the same place; they merge within the painting. At that time, Bomberg was
involved in ground-breaking stuff and was in effect trialling the idea that a painting can
allow us to perceive something that is not there…. and if it represents what is not there,
then we cannot know what, for Bomberg, the picture represented.
But… we do see something?
“Today our sight is a little weary, burdened by the memory of a thousand
images.. we no longer see nature, we see pictures over and over again”
quote by Cezanne in 1902
“Walking through Aysen”
An exhibition of the work to be held at the Embassy of Chile, London November 2019.
“Through a painted landscape”
written by Colin Taylor exclusively for painters TUBES magazine
email: email@example.com - website http://www.coltaylor.co.uk
top left:”Lago Leones”#1.
bottom left :”Estero Parada #4.
top right: ““Cerro Castill” #2
bottom right : Via Pueto Ibanez #2
left: Colin Taylor
in his studio
“..After 7 years and Later.”
the Art of Richard Fitton
Whitaker Art Museum
opens 11th May
Richartd examining his new work at Studio 5 Sweden - photographed by Denis Taylor/ painters TUBES magazine/ ©March2019
“...the last time I was in Manchester (UK) I visited Richard
Fitton at his new studio. It was a fortunate and unexpected
trip, I found him hard at work organising his paintings from
previous years. This wasn’t the first time I had talked ‘Art’
with Richard, in fact we get on well and have mutual respect
for each other as ‘fellow-artists’.
This time we talked about painting in general and new
directions for Art in the 21st century. The conversation was
in the light of his upcoming exhibition at the palacial
Whitaker Art Museum in Rossendale, Lancashire, UK..
We discussed about drawing from ‘life’ and he expressed
delight in being able to find new models to use as
inspiration to create semi-abstract figurative work.
He also told me how he felt the need to push his practice
beyond what he has done over the last years. It’s a normal
desire for all authentic artists to want to progress their art
and Richard is certainly a serious minded artist, as can be
seen from some of his work from 2012 onwards.
After several hours and a delightful lunch of fish and chips
washed down with real ale, plus more ‘Art-Talk’ we parted
with my promise to write the introduction for his new
exhibition and we both looked forward to meeting up again
at the Whitaker Art Museum on the 11th May.
However, that was not to be the case.
A week or two passed and Richard rang early one
Monday morning me to ask if was “OK” for him to come over
to Sweden for a week or so. It seems he had hit an impasse
on his work, and as I felt partly responsible with our talk
about ‘forging ahead with a new art for the 21st century.”
I willingly said “of course.”
He arrived that following Thursday fully tooled up with his
brushes and tubes of paint. I had bought him a good hard
backed sketch book the day before and after depositing his
bags we immediately went to the forests that surrounds my
studio and this change of environment and perhaps his view
of nature began without much delay.
above: Richard Fitton in his Studio in Manchester.
photograph ©Denis Taylor/painters TUBES magazine
The days that followed were along the same lines and Richard
became engrossed with the natural compositional
abstractions that nature gives an artist ‘for free’ - perhaps
with a little help from me, he soon began painting with
a new passion and the beginnings of a path of art discovery.
“After 7 years Later” will show Richards work from 2012
right up to the moment he left Sweden, I just hope the
package with the work (now cured) will reach him in time...”
The exhibitiom preview follows on the next page.
“ after 7 years and later ”
the art of Richard Fitton
The title of the exhibition gives the viewer an indication of the
chronological nature which the art has been installed here at the
Whitaker Art Museum. The date of each piece of Art is not specific as
such, however the arrangement shows Richard’s work from around
2012 onwards to the present day and the later work on show gives a
glimpse of what we may expect to see from the artist in the near future.
I first became aware of Richard’s work almost six years ago, quite
soon after he was elected as a member of the Manchester Academy of
Fine Art, a distinction bestowed on a young artist, which was unusual
for the very long established MAFA organisation. Richard was only
twenty one years old at the time. This ‘fellowship’ placed the artist in
the front of most fellow artists and commercial galleries in the North
of England as a painter with great promise for the future. I was to meet
him in person first in late 2015.
Richard’s initial work was concerned with establishing a ‘form
in space’ using paint in rapidly applied in heavy layers and then
manipulating the pigment applied to gain the three dimensional form
he sought after. The heavy impasto technique, one that had been redeveloped
by known artists from the early twentieth century, Richard
began to utilise and made his own, mainly because it suited his
ambitions of achieving a ‘form in space’ - And using the human figure
as the catalyst to reach an interesting and accomplished conclusion to
a work of art.
The simplistic titles of the work, for example “Head of Adam,” belies
the intensity of the observation behind the work and the extent to
which the artist prepares for each unique painting he creates.
His preference for working from a ‘live’ model rather than solely
relying on photographic references enables Richard to get close to the
subject, both visually and emotionally.
This “form in space, married with human conditions” period of
Richard’s work has occupied him for many years and has produced
some exciting original and authentic art.
The later paintings in the show consist of construction and composition
using an instinctive line and exacting colour tonal values, all elements
that are balanced in one outpouring of instinctive talent based artistic
intelligence and vision. And with authentic abstract work that is
graceful, a pleasure to behold and show the creative force
at its very best.
©painters TUBES magazine
Shown here are a few examples of the
works to be exhibited at the “After 7
year later” exhibition at the Whitaker.
bottom right: Richard on his way back to
England, waiting for the early
morning train from Ängelholm, Sweden
to Copenhagen airport in Denmark
Love of Art.”
the work of Elaine Preece Stanley
written by fellow artist Dean Entwistle
“for the Love of Art”
written exclusively for TUBES by the artist Dean Entwistle
“...It was back in the winter of 2017, when the editor of Painters Tubes, Denis Taylor, first raised
the subject of writing an article for painters TUBES. I remember we had consumed a few beers,
while we attempted to conjure resolutions for the future of contemporary painting, that we
generally both shared about the current art scene. “I’m no writer” l exclaimed to him and yet here
I am now, in 2019, putting pen to paper in my Macclesfield studio. “ I’m a painter” I said, to Denis
and he replied “who better to write with empathy, about painters than an other painter?
So here I am musing with my particular insight, on the Liverpool based painter, Elaine Preece
Stanley, with a view to write this article.
Painters come in all shapes and sizes, I know my fair share, some paint for the market, some
paint for themselves, it’s how they make sense of their own and the lives of others.
However all share an inner need to process their perceptions, through the making of art.
I chose to write about Elaine because of her sincerity, not just as a person but because of
her ability to express herself, through the process of painting and her internal world view, in
particular with her own concept of unconditional love. I’ll return to the subject of unconditional
First I’ll tell you how I met Elaine, our paths first crossed some five years ago, through social
media. We formed a virtual friendship, like many painters do these days. We would chat, share
our work, and make comments on particular paintings, on the whole social media is a positive
tool. I followed Elaine’s artistic journey with interest remotely, watching her push and strive,
to express further her intimate world of emotion, memories and reason. I always found Elaine
rewarding, warm and funny, as a virtual friend...”
...I didn’t get to meet Elaine (in real life) until earlier this year and then through a mutual friend. I
met her in Liverpool while working on a project to connect artists within the north west of England. We
had lunch at an Italian restaurant and the conversation was lively and witty, no prizes for guessing the
topic of conversation, of course it was painting.
My next meeting with Elaine, took place weeks later at her solo exhibition which was held at a city
centre gallery in Liverpool. It was my first opportunity to experience Elaine’s painting in the flesh.
Her bold confident mark making was bursting with life and vitality. It was work that sings with the
celebration of life. My first impression gave way to Elaine’s sensitivity of colour, an accomplished
understanding that I seldom see in contemporary commercial galleries. This alone sets Elaine’s work
apart, making it worthy of people’s attention.
I find Elaine’s painting intriguing, there exists a weight of purpose
in it’s delivery, combined with a sense of light which is both fresh
and playful. To uncover more, I arranged with Elaine to visit
her studio, to discuss the possibility of writing this article.
After a tour of Elaine’s studio and another chatty lunch, Elaine
and I sit down in comfortable chairs, to discuss what drives and
motivates her to paint. Elaine’s dog Arty, relaxes on my lap and
hen we begin. I open about the first time, (years previously)
Elaine’s work spoke to me, it’s a painting of Conway, North Wales,
although the Conway isn’t visibly recognisable from the
appearance of scene, the sense of place is unmistakable.
From this moment on, Elaine’s work grips my attention.
We talked about our mutual childhood memories of Conway
and it’s not long before we discover that both our respective
families, spent summer holidays annually, within yards of each
other. Now I understand why Elaine’s painted memories of
childhood holidays in Conway, resonate clearly with me.
Talking with Elaine, I’m gaining an understanding of proof,
that Elaine makes paintings that traverse through time,
where she explores her emotional landscapes.
As the time passed, Elaine explains how painting helps to process the sadness
she feels, about the loss of both parents, it’s the unconditional love she feels from
childhood memories, of her parents and family holidays that help Elaine process
her grief. Making her paintings, that restore and revisit this unconditional love of
close family members is powerful stuff. It’s also an endorsement of painting, like
music it soothes and helps heal pain experienced through a persons life.
I’m not a writer, nor do I profess to be a doctorate of academic of art, I possess no
intellectual contemporary art weight in the contemporary academic world, however
everything Elaine references to in her painting rings true to me. I’ve never really
been convinced that the notions of an ‘avant guard’ art are as important as art
historians or academics extrapolate.
As a painter, I simply believe great art speaks from generation to generation,
making sense of fundamental truths of being human. For me Elaine’s work does
just that, it’s unpretentious and sincere, just like Elaine.
Her work, speaks her truth, its authenticity is the root of its worth. It’s a celebration
of life, it doesn’t dwell on the angst, Elaine processes the angst through the making
of he paintings to achieve her personal experience of unconditional love.
I just wish that more people could have greater access to see Elaine’s work and
I’m pleased to say they can. Elaine is soon to become a gallery artist at Ffin
y Parc, a beautiful gallery, located within the Conway valley. I know Elaine is
excited to be associated with Ffin y Parc, given her long established relationship
with North Wales. It’s this deep affection for the region that motivated Elaine to
be elected as an academician of the Royal Cambrian Academy.
In summary, I believe Elaine’s work documents her personal journey of
understanding the nature of love, it’s a skill to be learnt and Elaine rounds the
rough edges of her love through the making of art. Elaine’s generosity then
allows others to experience her sensations and what she has learnt, that is
contained in a moment and captured in a painting as an art form.
I guess, I’m coming to the end of my article, sometimes I think less is more,
besides the less I write, the more space can be found within the editorial for
images of Elaine’s paintings.
Final words, just a big thank you Elaine, for giving me your blessing to write this
piece, and with much love from one artist to another.
Written by Dean Entwistle for painters Tubes magazine issue #12.
all work is © Elaine Preece Stanley 2018/2019
the well known Canadian
Artist, David Tycho...
...talking about abstract art
in his own inimitable way.
The Hundred Years’ Grudge
a brief and biased history of abstract painting
by Artist David Tycho
It’s all fun and games until somebody loses a 30,000-yearold
artistic tradition. So it went in 1910, when Russian
avant-garde artist Wassily Kandinsky eschewed any and
all subject matter by dabbing a few colourful, amorphous
shapes onto a 20 by 25 inch sheet of paper. He christened
the little painting Untitled, further obscuring his intentions.
The plebs were not amused.
In 1910, George V succeeded Edward VII, Czarist Russia
absorbed Finland, the first Zeppelin with passengers was
launched, and women in the vast majority of countries still
did not have the right to vote.
I mean to suggest, with all due respect, that a century is a
very long time—too long for everyone to still be holding a
grudge, and long enough, one would think, for people to
have warmed up to the notion.
But throughout abstract painting’s century-old existence in
Western Art, this simply hasn’t been the case.
The genre periodically receives a public thrashing, usually
when a piece is bought or sold for a newsworthy sum.
A typical example that comes to mind occurred in my
homeland when the National Gallery of Canada bought
Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire (derisively referred to as
“The Red Stripe”) for an exorbitant (in retrospect paltry)
sum of 1.8 million dollars in 1987.
To exacerbate the collective wound, the gallery went out
and bought a maddeningly austere Mark Rothko for about
the same amount four years later. Shortly after the Rothko
purchase, I was at my brother’s for a summer barbecue.
His pal and self-appointed spokesperson for the masses
had read an editorial on the subject, and he was fighting
“1.8 million dollars of taxpayers’ money
for a red dot...”
...he kept blurting out Tourettes-like at anyone within
spitting distance. I refrained from telling him that it was
actually a white oblong on a red background, which surely
would have taken the wind out of his sails. Nor did I phone
him a generation later to rub his nose in the fact that if sold
today, the painting could fetch 40 times that amount.
The National Gallery seemed to know what they were doing,
both in terms of adding some heavyweight abstract pieces
to their permanent collection, as well as adding equity to the
gallery’s coffers. A new generation has come of age since
the National Gallery purchases, but the bulk of the young’ns
are no more convinced than their elders. They can be heard
murmuring at local arcades and Starbucks that abstract art is
still the Emperor’s new clothes, and that sympathetic culture
ministers and gallery curators should be put in stocks and
publicly humiliated in town squares throughout Christendom.
Okay, I didn’t hear them say those exact words, but I could see
it in their eyes.
Critics of Kandinsky and his disciples fall into two camps,
with a few agnostics in between. One small group claims that
abstract art is sublime and encapsulates all the depth and
profundity that cannot be expressed by any other means—that
it is transcendental in its very nature. The other overwhelmingly
larger camp is less than convinced because they
“saw a monkey paint one on T.V.”
More accurately it was a chimpanzee and, as everyone knows,
chimpanzees have no prehensile tail, which gives them a
higher position on Darwin’s roster than their dung-hurling
hillbilly cousins. But I digress.
Abstract painting has been called everything from garbage, to
a sham, to wallpaper, to eye candy, to fluff, to masturbation,
to the sublime, to the apex of visual art, to an instrument of
American imperialism. The Christian Right have even called it
the handiwork of Satan, but then again, they’ve said as much
about Teletubbies and Liberalism.
One fact which cannot be denied by even the most vociferous
of naysayers, however, is that abstract art not only flipped and
flopped and fought its way upstream, it survived long enough
to spawn in those icy, early twentieth-century waters. But those
insolent fry, like their forebears, would not confess to their
“You’re right, we made asses of everyone, and a heap
of money, but now I guess we should get down to the
serious business of painting street scenes, mountains
and portraits. That was some ride, though,
you gotta admit.”
A vote of confidence for the often-maligned style was
forwarded when many artists who had first mastered traditional
drawing skills later dumped realism for its sexier cousins,
expressionism and abstraction.
Many claimed that abstraction was not only more compelling,
but also more challenging than their earlier realistic work.
Picasso said it took him ten years to draw like the masters, and
the rest of his life to paint like a child.
Kline and deKooning abandoned their careers as illustrators to
explore abstraction. Kline had been skeptical of the movement
until he saw one of his drawings projected so large on a wall
that the image was reduced to its structural components, not
unlike seeing pencil marks through a microscope.
It occurred to him that painting did not have to describe things
— it was a thing. He immediately cast aside his illustrations of
New York street scenes and dove into explorations of black and
white paint. He also, like many of his cronies, dove into a vat
of scotch and drank himself to death. They weren’t about to be
outdone by any damn poets or jazz musicians.
When questioned on their rationale for switching from realism
to expressionism and later abstraction in the first half of the
twentieth century, artists gave an answer that went something
like this: An apple is an apple, and any representation of it on
a flat surface created by manipulating viscous pigments seems
pointless, or downright silly.
The camera does an admirable job of documenting
...events, and even apples if the photographer so chooses.
The painter’s challenge, therefore,
is to do something else.
Abstract art seems obvious and inevitable when viewed in
a historical context. From the mid-1800s on, the art world
coexisted with an array of cultural, social, political and
technological revolutions, and artists saw no reason why they
should be wallflowers at the zeitgeist prom.
Cameras were introduced in the 1860s, compact, portable
ones by 1895, so painters stopped colouring within the
lines. Cold, classical realism was usurped by emotionally
charged Romanticism, which eventually led to those
lovely impressionistic scenes of Paris, which in turn begot
Expressionism, those angst-ridden, thickly painted social
critiques favoured by the Germans.
In many works the subjects were barely identifiable, and
painting was on the threshold of liberation and independence.
Then, on that fateful spring morning in 1910, Kandinsky
ploughed his last recognizable subjects into the very paint that
had been giving art its form since Paleolithic times.
He postulated that if music was an arrangement of sounds in
time, why couldn’t art be an arrangement of forms and colours
in space? A violin mimicking a speeding train may elicit a few
smiles, but no one takes it too seriously.
It is not obligatory to translate melodies and time signatures
into words—most listeners simply savour the aural bouquet and
perhaps hum along. But gallery-goers often feel unfulfilled or
cheated if no explanation is attached to an abstract work.
I once watched an elderly woman in a gallery vainly searching
for an interpretation of a particularly splashy and drippy piece.
With brows furled, she stomped past me, muttering,
“He must have been abused as a child.”
For more than a century, abstract painters have had to defend
their work as legitimate, reasonable, and if one considers the
history of art, inevitable. Just look at Mondrian’s tree studies
as they become increasingly abstract; these logical transitions
contend that painting had no other place to go.
Earlier, in Monet’s haystacks, the hay served as a textured
screen onto which the sun’s rays and changing light and
atmospheric conditions were projected. This allowed Monet to
focus not on a quaint, pastoral narrative, but on the forms and
colours, rather, just as musicians had been doing with notes
and chords for millennia.
When Kandinsky saw a Monet in 1895, he grumbled,
“It was from the catalogue I learned this was a
haystack. I was upset I had not recognized it. I also
thought the painter had no right to paint in such an
But the painting haunted him, eventually propelling him deep
into an aesthetic as yet unimagined by Monet.
Some of Kandinsky’s zealous contemporaries would leapfrog
their mentor, eventually painting themselves into a corner,
many would say, when Kazimir Malevich painted a black square
on a grey canvas. To identify a thread connecting a Rubens of
1701 and a Renoir of 1901 is easy..
“the compositions, colours and paint application
are different, but we get it: beautifully painted,
To articulate a link between a 1901 Renoir nude and Malevich’s
Black Square of 1915, on the other hand, requires a remarkable
command of art speak and a liberal measure of balls.
Abstract painters soldiered on, some banding together with
grand statements about how their art was spiritual, or how
it represented a new world order, or how it was a revolution
against decadent capitalist ideals. The Communists and
later the Nazis just didn’t see it that way at all, frightening
the subversives into fleeing Moscow and Berlin for the less
tempestuous waters of Paris and New York. Upon arrival, of
course, the paint-splattered refugees immediately took it upon
themselves to aggravate everyone in sight.
Even Clement Greenberg, the American critic who later
championed the abstract expressionist work of Pollock and
Rothko, initially warned that Kandinsky was...
“...a danger to young painters.”
Some curious critics, however, began to cover the exhibitions, a
few even to embrace the work as fresh and innovative.
Brave dealers followed, and eventually collectors.
Life Magazine presented this insular art world to the American
public in their article on Jackson Pollock in 1949.
The writer asked, “Is he the greatest living artist in the United
States?” The public collectively peed their pants laughing and
lined their kitty litter boxes with the piece.
Time Magazine later dubbed Pollock “Jack the Dripper”, but old
Jack was about to have the last laugh. That is until in 1956 he
got stinking drunk and drove his convertible into an elm tree,
killing himself and a lady friend in the process.
Take that, you jazz musicians.
Not long after Pollock’s death, in progressive art schools,
abstract was the only way to paint, and in that fickle
monde d’arte, the realists were pronounced nerdy, uptight
anachronisms and subsequently barred from hip galleries and
museums. The Dripper had posthumously exacted his revenge,
and the hatchet would be buried, albeit in a shallow grave.
Good thing, because as suddenly as the movement’s fling with
New York critics had begun, it ‘lost that lovin’ feeling by the
mid-1960s, with all that altered consciousness, peace and
social revolution going on. A new generation of critics looking
to make names for themselves exhumed the hatchet, declared
abstract art irrelevant, hacked it to pieces, and searched for
new things to talk about. After all, how much could one say
about a field of blue bisected with a red line?
“That painting is a field of blue bisected
by a red line,”
I guess—not really enough to launch a fledgling career on.
Old abstraction seemed pretty benign when compared
to locking oneself in a room overnight with a coyote
(performance art) or covering a cliff with plastic tarps
(conceptual art) or just imagining groovy things and being too
anti-materialist to even make them (super-cool conceptual
art). Once again, painting, and especially abstract painting,
was pronounced dead.
But like a phoenix, it rose again from the has-been ash heap
in the late 1970s in cities such as Berlin, Rome, London and
New York. The new kids on the block weren’t abstract in the
purest sense of the word, but clearly slopping and dripping
paint was cool again, perhaps as a counter to what had
become all too dry, intellectual and visually uninspiring in art.
Those little photos of urban decay and all that text (photo-text
art) always did look a bit anomalous on expansive gallery
walls. And of course the likes of Joan Mitchell, Donald Judd,
Kenneth Noland, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, Pierre Soulages,
Sean Scully and John Hoyland continued to carry the torch,
oblivious to the ever-changing post-modern trends, but their
careers had been canonized, even if they were denounced
by many young critics as being irrelevant. I always got the
impression that the new guard wished they would all die,
so they would no longer have to create narratives about
abstraction in a contemporary context.
But it’s hard to keep a good idea down. As the millennium
changed, and the old guard and their ideas were dying
off, a number of young painters picked up the torch and
a movement began to take form, culminating in Barbara
MacAdam of ART news making her April 2007 proclamation,
“Abstraction is in the midst of a revival, flaunting its
brilliant past as it reconfigures itself for the future.”
The abstract bandwagon filled quickly, as evidenced by the
proliferation of abstract painting in galleries and at art fairs
all over the globe. But those fickle critics soon turned on the
resurgence, derisively referring to it as “zombie formalism”,
“crapstraction” and “dropcloth abstraction”, to name but a few.
Admittedly, much of it lacked the WOW! factor of its
forebears, and the marketing and financial speculation
surrounding it quickly became distasteful, but for me, it was
comforting to see young painters bucking esoteric, postmodern
trends and executing sensual, painterly works.
Call me crazy, but I still just love the look of drippy paint
on canvas. I have had some of my most revelatory
contemplations while looking at abstract paintings.
It wasn’t always like this, though. While attending university,
I too was dubious of abstract art, but through increased
exposure and familiarity, I came to appreciate and eventually
adore it. It was the same with sharp cheeses, robust red wines
and jazz music. After acquiring a taste for Stilton, I simply can’t
go back to Kraft slices, and after Miles Davis, Rihanna just
doesn’t do it for me.
One reason abstract painting is so misunderstood is that so
few of us have the opportunity to surround ourselves with
enough of it to begin to make distinctions and evaluations. We
trot by them in galleries, paying them visual lip service. About
music, on the other hand, we make more informed choices.
If we could hang a variety of abstract paintings in our homes
for months at a time, certain ones would seduce us. The late
Montréal painter Guido Molinari said that he liked to hang his
large minimalist paintings low enough for people to dance with
them. And as Guido and we all know, slow dancing can be
Whether we waltz with or contemplate an abstract work of
art, the profundity is not only in the work itself, but also in our
ability to focus on it in an uncluttered state of mind. Buddhist
monks focus on their breath and approach enlightenment, or if
they are distracted, they wonder what the cook is preparing for
dinner or who won last night’s sumo match. On this level, the
“meaning” of the work changes from day to day, from viewer to
viewer, from context to context.
Abstraction is timeless and universal, unlike many other types
of art that are only relevant in the here and now, or conjure
up nothing more than feelings of nostalgia once their day has
passed. Campbell’s soup cans just don’t excite me, I’m afraid,
although I do appreciate the importance of Warhol. I’d just
rather reflect on the ethereal oblongs of Mark Rothko than
contemplate a chicken noodle soup label.
So, for his audacity to experiment, to shake up the status quo,
to attempt to visually express the verbally inexpressible, and
to dare to be sensuous and soulful in a world filled with pat or
intellectualized depictions of the human experience, we should
raise our glasses to this bold man and to his unassuming yet
monumental watercolour of 1910. I know I often do, along with
a slosh of Bordeaux, a nibble of Camembert, and the spare
notes of Miles.
Here’s to you, Wassily—and may your progeny continue to
spread their unruly abstract seeds.
is this a real Van Gogh?
André Chahil interviews one person who presents evidence that this really is an original Vincent Van Gogh.
The Van Gogh museum says it’s not.
Editors note: Over the years there has been many claims made that this work or that work is a ‘Van Gogh’ -
The official Van Gogh Museum, usually, denies them all as originals. The main reason for this could be this
simple fact. When Van Gogh died the first person on the scene was Dr Cachet, who had been called upon
by villagers to attend the mortally injured artist. He was accompanied by his Son. It is known that the good
Doctor took away many paintings from the dying artists rooms in the yellow house. It is also a fact that Dr
Cachet was a part time painte and apparently not a bad one at that. And his son also had been inspired to
paint by the many impressionists and post impressionists that regarded Dr Cachet as both a friend and a
their doctor, as did Vincent himself.
It is not unreasonable to assume that Dr Cachet painted from the originals, perhaps even took some
photographs for reference. Of course the technical data would have shown that these works had the correct
canvas, paint and chemicals as did the ‘verified’ Van Gogh’s, that were later taken by his wife and his
family, which eventually make up the bulk of the Van Gogh Museum today.
So, it seems almost impossible to prove that many of the ‘claimed’ Van Gogh’s works where created by the
hand of Vincent or by the Cachet or by a.n other ?
Interview with Markus Roubrocks. (owner of the painting)
photograph © M. Roubrocks
Mr. Roubrocks, your family owns since 1977 a 37.5 x 43.5 cm oil painting titled “Still life with peonies”.
According to your statement, it is attributed to the painter Vincent Van Gogh, his style is clearly
recognizable in this work. For more than 20 years, you have been using all means, with the help of
consistent evidence, to fight for official recognition. This in particular through the Van Gogh Museum
(VGM) in Amsterdam. Since time immemorial, a great legal dispute has started. First of all … how did
the painting get into the possession of your family and what previous provenance can be traced back?
My father bought this painting in 1977 in a convolute purchase, in a badly condition in Belgium. From this
time there is no written record for a provenance. Already in the period 1981-1983, the work was contested
by the Van Gogh Museum and the Dutch Documentation Center for Art History (RKD), by a consideration
of photographs. This even though there were already two art historical and three scientific reports at that
time. In other words, it has acted against every norm and arbitrarily, without ever seeing and examining
the painting in the original. It was also alleged that it was a forgery.
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam dates from 1973 and presents more than 200 paintings and
over 400 drawings from all creative periods. The core of the collection is built by direct inheritance from
secondhand of his legacy. In addition, the museum operates a center that deals with researches in
art. In the international art market, Van Gogh is considered as an original only if it has been confirmed
by this institution. Thus, the museum actually holds a monopoly position and the art market refers in a
trusting manner to their expertise. Critics, as in your case, accuse this house of misrepresentation and
lack of care in some of these matters. How did you continue, in chronological order, with your still life
I finally inherited the oil painting from my father in 1997 and in the period 2000/2001 a detailed investigation
by the Van Gogh Museum was negotiated for an imminent sale by the auction house Sotheby’s in Zurich,
Swizerland. In November of 2001, the VGM declared my painting again as a clear forgery.
As the results of the VGM could not be reconciled with the
eight previous reports, I placed order to Jägers laboratory
Erhard Jägers microanalytical laboratory in Bornheim,
Germany. He is one of the experts who treated the case
of the scandal surrounding art counterfeiter Wolfgang
Beltracchi, unmasked him. A leading research institute in
Germany for internationally recognized art goods.
And his lab confirmed that VGM’s expertise was flawed.
A short time later I presented the laboratory report to
the then responsible Mr. Louis van Tilborgh in the VGM
personally. Mr van Tilborgh stated that he had to think about
new facts and that I should come back. But it did not come
to that, I was not admitted to Mr van Tilborgh and roughly
led out of the museum. Then they sent me a contract for
revaluation. Since at that time the Jägers Laboratory was
working on a statement against the expertise of the VGM,
I replied to the museum that one should withdraw the
catastrophic expertise of 2001 and acknowledge my
painting. The VGM just replied that they did not want to
talk about the case anymore. Even after transmission
of the Jägers opinion to the VGM there was no further
reaction. In 2005, I signed the contract for revaluation by
the VGM on the advice of my lawyer. The VGM did not
want to decide on my case even after this step.
Exterior, the new building of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
(Photo © A. Chahil.)
In 1991, a prominent case occurred which was also
related to the VGM. At that time they declared the
submitted work “Sunset at Montmajour” from the
year 1888 as a fake. In 2013 they took more detailed
examinations, i.a. by adding further historical evidence
attesting that the work exists in this form – and finally
declared it as real. The situation is not easy for art
scientists. Already in the first three decades after Van
Gogh’s death (1890), there were forgeries and painters
who benevolently copied his then fashionable style.
The boom of the new, purely capital-oriented art market
of the 1980s has also contributed to the fact, that
criminals operate with the help by a professional network
and invest great effort to produce the best possible and
almost laboratory-safe fakes.
The Dutch painter and draftsman Vincent Willem van
Gogh (1853-1890) is regarded in the history of art as an
influential pioneer of modernism. According to current
research Van Gogh left an oeuvre of about 864 paintings
and more than 1000 drawings, most of which have been
made within the last 10 years of his life.
The myth of an unrecognized genius and that of a mad artist, whose achievement in society was granted
to him only post mortem, has become the subject of his popularity. The numerous correspondence with
his younger brother Theo Van Gogh, who was at that time a successful art dealer and the main reference
person of the painter, are until today an essential part of the source fo researches in art scientific matters.
After Van Gogh’s demise, his style of painting became fashionable and became so popular that the
art market, with its numerous counterfeits and misinterpretations of its oeuvre, continues to struggle in
questions of enlightenment. | left: Vincent van Gogh at the age of 19, photograph by Jacobus Marinus
Wilhelmus de Louw, 1872. | right: Vincent Van Gogh, Self-portrait, oil on canvas, 40.6 x 31.8 cm, 1887.
In the case of “Sunset at Montmajour” it must be remembered that the provenance is proven until the date
of sale by the Van Gogh family in 1903. The painting is listed in the number 180 at Bongers list and is also
described in Van Gogh’s letters. This makes it particularly clear that clear provenances for the VGM have
no meaning and if necessary all facts are ignored.
How did you continue in your case…?
Consequently, I sued the VGM in 2012. The following year, even during restoration of my painting, red hair
was found in the painting, which could possibly have come from Van Gogh himself and was preserved
under the oil layer. DNA reconciliation has not materialized until today due to the heirs disagreeing with
DNA matching Vincent Van Gogh. Since 2013, I am in a constant legal dispute with the VGM.
There were several court cases on Dutch soil in
the course of these years. Among other things, I
found out that my work was never really examined,
but only considered. Since the transmission of
new facts to my picture the VGM does not answer
In 2012 a hair, that appeared sealed under
the pigments, was taken from the still life. Is it
one of Vincent Van Gogh? Recording in 140x
Paint background, craquelé and signature. What
are the main results of your investigations from
your still life to the present day?
There are five scientific opinions from 1980 to
the present day that examined and confirmed all
of Van Gogh’s typical factors – and two scientific
statements against the statements of the VGM.
Scientifically, my painting is more than approved.
The Jägers Laboratory has recently shown that the
primer of my painting has the same characteristics
as Tasset et Lhôte.
above photo Archive © M. Roubrocks
It can even be derived from the book of the Van Gogh Museum “Van Gogh’s Studio Practice” an
assignment in the period 1889-1890. The primer in my painting has the same composition as that of a
roll of canvas supplied by Tasset et Lhôte Van Gogh around 1889-1890. Van Gogh received from Tasset
et Lhôte 5 and 10 meter rolls of canvases, each with a different primer. In the book of VGM the primers
are described down to the smallest pigment, thus a comparison became possible. The established
forgery theory is thus refuted as a whole, due to the fact that Van Gogh was not forged in the period
1889-1890 and certainly not on canvases from this address. Van Gogh preferred canvases from Tasset
et Lhôte from Paris due to the high quality.
Prominent contemporaries such as Edgar Degas, Paul Signac and Alfred Sisley were also customers of
this supplier. From Van Gogh’s phase in Arles, he ordered the canvases, except at the merchant Tanguy,
exclusively at Tasset et Lhôte. The letters tell how the request for paint materials increased, adressed to
his brother Theo, who organized it.
The canvas was supplied by weavers, the art lay in the primer. Van Gogh writes that the primer from
Tasset et Lhôte has better accepted the thicker paint application and is finer. This probably has to do
with the fact that the primer of the paint does not remove the moisture too quickly. The same quality
criterion applied to the pigments, the colors of Tasset et Lhôte.
The basic materials and the processing of the colors of Tasset et Lhôte is qualitatively higher. The cobalt
blue e.g. had a smaller share of iron. As a result, there is less black discoloration and the blue appears
more intense and stronger. Van Gogh describes the visual difference in his letters. Incidentally, all the
pigments in my painting are suitable for Van Gogh, which also had to be confirmed by the VGM. The
colors themselves are lightened with barium. Taking barium as a filler is uncommon during that time, but
was typical of Van Gogh. There is a precise breakdown of the parts of the Jägers lab, which in turn are
similar to those used in Van Gogh’s time.
Another opinion from 1983 confirmed that there was an original signature with “Vincent” in red color on
the lower left vase rim, which must have been created clearly at the same time as the picture was made.
Back of the canvas. The weave, structure, characteristics and priming of the canvas were part of several
studies carried out by renowned laboratories, which led to the conclusion that “Still life with peonies”
was most likely produced on a base of the turn-of-the-century Tasset et Lhôte factory in Paris. | Photo
/ Archive © M. Roubrocks Let’s come to another point, the “Bonger List”. At the turn of the century, at
the turn of Van Gogh, Andries Bonger was a Dutch insurance salesman and art collector. At the time,
his collection was one of the most important in modern art in the Netherlands. The core of the collection
Bonger built only three years after Van Gogh’s death. Handwritten notes document details of the
collection. Written evidence from the time of Van Gogh on the existence of your still life does not exist.
After reviewing the Bonger list you have drafted a thesis that has to contend with the confusion of flower
varieties in terms of content.
The Bonger list is an inventory of the paintings that was still owned by the Van Gogh family in 1891.
Works that are in the Bonger list are inevitably real. In the Bonger list the number 19.4 is described as
Myosotis (forget-me-not) in T.8. The design and size (en Toile de 8 46: 38 cm) are in line with my Van
Gogh painting. It is also the only Van Gogh painting in the world on which a Myosotis (Forget-me-not
flower) is painted and where size fits.
According to your own research, there may be another theory that can be deduced from the letters of
Vincent and his brother, the art dealer Theo Van Gogh, in which even after Vincent’s death, a large part
of the works remained. This is about a subsequent change and an indication of the possible existence of
your still life.
Photo / Archive © M. Roubrocks
Vincent writes to Theo in 1889 that he adds a small flower painting to a box of other paintings. It was
nothing special, but he did not want to tear it up. The picture is missing in the catalogues. The experts say
that Van Gogh did not paint any still lifes during this time. Although Van Gogh writes that he has painted a
flower piece but in fact that was also overlooked.
Paris 1886-1887. Insight into the list of art collector and patron Andries Bonger. Number 19.4 as myosotis
(Forget-me-not flower). Is there a misinterpretation, confusion? The basis of all reception and examination
of the oeuvre and the biography of each artist is the literature, which consequently has undergone a
constant change of the respective current state of research. In the case of Van Gogh, you have discovered
succinct peculiarities that are not fully familiar to the experts to this extent. How would you describe and
evaluate them in detail?
The first catalog of works was created in 1928 by J. B. de la Faille. The auctioneer lawyer, critic, journalist
and art dealer had to write an addendum in 1939 due to the numerous fakes that he had taken. From
1961 to 1970, the third version was drafted by a committee: J.-G. van Gelder, W. Jos de Gruyter, AM
Hammacher, Jan Hulsker, H. Gerson, Annet Tellegen-Hoogendoorn and Martha Op de Coul and others.
Again, all three versions are incomplete and, despite repeated revision of forgeries or mistakes. Prof. Jan
Hulsker wrote on behalf of the Dutch government in 1978 a new catalog of works “The Complete Van
Gogh”. It must be mentioned here that Mr. Hulsker had to struggle with envy and resentment. The Dutch
Documentation Center for Art History (RKD) apparently felt left out and Ms. Annet Tellegen-Hoogendoorn
and Martha Op de Coul had little interest in supporting Jan Hulsker. Prof. Dr. Hans Ludwig Cohn Jaffè was
basically ignored because he too often disagreed and became a thorn in the side of the RKD and the Van
Gogh family. Prof. Dr. Jaffè was deputy director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and accompanied the
Van Gogh collection through the war until he moved in 1958 from the University of Amsterdam. Several
of Van Gogh’s paintings were recognized by Prof. Jaffè and he was a member of the Van Gogh Expertise
Institute. So Prof. Hulsker was quite alone and could only rely on what the Van Gogh family provided.
Mr. Hulsker was criticized and attacked because of the errors in the 1978 edition, until he presented a
completely revised version in 1996: “The New Complete Van Gogh – Paintings, Drawings, Sketches”.
The new edition was a single fiasco. Due to the high age Hulsker confused locations, titles and took
counterfeits in the publication. In 1989 Ingo E. Walther & Rainer Metzger and the german Taschenverlag tried
to present a complete list of works. With “Vincent van Gogh – Sämtliche Gemälde”, the title promises quite a
bit, but as we know today a few real ones are missing, but a few false works have been published. The VGM,
in turn, has been working on the inventory catalog of the museum’s paintings since 1995 and is still struggling
to this day. For more than 22 years, the VGM has been busy numbering and examining 220 paintings. One
can be glad that the VGM does not write a catalog of works. Because with almost 900 works, that would take
more than 90 years of time!
Let’s focus to a slightly younger directory. About a decade ago the publication of publisher and art dealer
Feilchenfeldt appeared in the professional world, which should bring light into the darkness of the absurdities.
They enjoyed a fundamental work on provenance and authenticity research, which examines more than 600
works by Van Gogh. Here you go to court with similar severity and title 200 content and technical errors.
Walter Feilchenfeldt, self-proclaimed Van Gogh expert, art dealer and author of several articles about Van
Gogh. Mr. Feilchenfeldt has already written a catalog of works for Cézanne, which was torn by the art press.
Then he tried Van Gogh. In 2009, the publication appeared: “Walter Feilchenfeldt, Vincent van Gogh, the
paintings 1886-1890, dealers, collectors, exhibitions, early provenances”. A scientific review of the works.
Again, after a moment’s notice, one mistake follows the other. Wrong measurements, incorrect conversions
of the measurements, wrong titles, wrong locations, wrong photos to the paintings, etc. I have collected all
mistakes in a list and explained them. According to Van Gogh expert Stefan Koldehoff and Art Magazine,
the catalogue aims to bring clarity to the chaos. But clearly, only one thing has become clear, namely that
they do not read the books they write about in the german Art Magazin. All books have one thing in common,
the outrageous price. Measured by the defectiveness of all catalogues, one feels inevitably cheated. As a
summary, I can only say … too bad for the poor trees were felled in vain. The poor art magazines and daily
newspapers that have a feature section, should be taught that they should not sing praises about books they
haven´t read closely enough.
The (specialist) literature dealing with Van Gogh’s oeuvre has been incomplete and often flawed since
the publication of the first catalog of works in 1928, to the present day. The large number of Van Gogh’s
works, the complex combination of their provenances, are the significant causes of misinterpretations
and misinterpretations, in addition to the numerous counterfeits that already existed 30 years
after Van Gogh’s death.
The Van Gogh Museum is one of the most visited and best organized museums in the world. Embedded in
the museum landscape at the Museumsplein in Amsterdam, it records visitor flows of more than 2 million
a year. It is closely guarded, divided into a new building and the old building designed by the architect
Gerrit Rietveld. It houses a museum shop where no product with Van Gogh print is left out and is managed
multimedia. Photographing is strictly forbidden, the visitor organization is prepared by processing the online
procedures according to the latest methods of the industry.
Both buildings resemble a vault whose content, measured in terms of value in the international art market and
its historical relevance to Van Gogh in art history, increases in terms of content and money, every second.
It is the largest self-contained collection of Van Gogh, but not the only one. This museum and its politics, in
dealing with Van Gogh’s oeuvre, have already been criticized more often. You aggravate it and talk about
internal intrigues and monopolized exercise of power.
What criticisms are there in detail and and how are the connections for an outsider, neutral point of
view to understand?
The VGM explains that they get around 200 requests for authenticity every year. Five works in which
everything is right. The colors, the motif, the brush stroke and the overall picture are ordered to the
museum for examination. The owners of the works of art will, as in my case, be contractually assured
of an investigation. However, the VGM admitted in court in 2013 that my painting was not examined in
2001, but only considered succinctly. The technical findings of the VGM describing the color structure
in my painting are thus fictitious. The extensive accompanying reports were disregarded as a whole.
The VGM can neither submit an investigation report nor clearly identify the investigation team. Now the
question arises as to why the courts are not responding to the fact and my lawyers have been holding
back. In 2014, together with my Dutch lawyer, I wanted to attend the “Arts & IE Rights” conference
of the Dutch Bar Association. One of the main topics of the Conference on Art Law was the litigation
concerning my painting. On the day of the conference, I and my lawyer were unloaded. The VGM
had threatened to break the event if we participated. The Dutch Bar Association has not withstood the
pressure of VGM and has been stabbing its own member.
“Opinions can change as little about certain basic truths as weathervanes can
change the direction of the wind. The weather vanes do not make the wind east or
north, and opinions can not make the truth come true.”
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
The power the VGM has and applies is clarified here. Personally, I assume that my lawyers were told
internally that it would not be advantageous for the Dutch to take action against the Rijksmuseum
and the VGM. It is also striking that the courts have confirmed to the VGM that they have carried out
three investigations concerning my painting. In 1978 there was a request to the VGM concerning my
painting, which the museum referred to the RKD, because in VGM 1978 no authentication was carried
out. The RKD has produced a negative opinion based on photos after my father signed the contract for
investigation. The forwarding to the RKD is interpreted by the VGM as an investigation. Viewing photos
by the RKD exposes the VGM as a self-conducted investigation. The courts have not responded
despite enlightening complaints from my side and the VGM confirmed three investigations, which led
me to announce the VGM in mid-2017 because of false statements and fraud. The Dutch judiciary
has not responded to my complaint until today. Anyone who can ignore or bend everything without
blemishes ultimately has absolute power.
Future! What positive changes would you wish for the Van Gogh world? Which significant part
concerning the recognition of your work “Still life with peonies” is still missing and what would you
recommend, after very clear and sharp criticism has fallen, for Van Gogh’s reception. What should, or
The VGM has caused chaotic conditions in Van Gogh’s research and has been more concerned with
commercialization and monopoly than Van Gogh’s legacy. Carrying sciences are ignored as well
as provenances, inventory lists (Bonger list) and Van Gogh’s letters. The self-serving behavior has
deprived the art world of genuine works for decades and prevented a proper reworking of the complete
works. The VGM is to recognize and process errors that have not been prepared. It remains for the
injured party only the way of a lawsuit, which is hardly to be led in the Netherlands because of the
extremely high legal fees and the exercise of power. This has created an untenable situation that is not
consistent with the basic rules of a museum.
a closer view of the rejected painting, do you think is is by Vincent Van Gogh?
The VGM violates the code of ethics of the museums of the ICOM (International Council of Museums)
and acts selfishly. It should also be kept in mind that the VGM is still an imperial museum and acts in the
name of the kingdom. The VGM was about to function only as an exhibiting museum and hand over the
authentication of Van Gogh works to an international impartial commission. World Heritage Vincent van
Gogh should be accessible to all and free of commercial ideologies and absurd exercise of power.
Mr. Roubrocks, thank you for the interesting insight into your case and personal experience in matters
related to Van Gogh’s oeuvre
interview conducted and written by André Chahil
read more of André’s writiing on: http://andrechahil.com
our resident critic ‘Spike’s’ last article seemed a big
hit with our readers, and in this issue Spike carries
on the art rants about...
...photography art and
Let’s start by saying that photography is an absolute art form
unto itself. So, why do many painters today click rapid digital
photographs pick the best one and simply copy them?
OK, I do know many painters process these
photographs through photoshop or the like and
apply filters and effects, and then copy them directly.
But, the composition and the forms remain a
photograph when all is said and done.
And it has to be said that photography was utilised since
the days of the impressionists. Yet, a photo is still an actual
snapshot of what the lens will capture in all it’s absolute
reality and detail, unlike the human eye, which is far
more selective and therefore this ‘restrictiveness’ helps with the
creation of authentic original Art.
A big question remains, that is - Does using photographic
reference of any kind (or used as a sketch book) help an artist
create real authentic Art? Or does it encourage the artist to
merely make a pale version of reality – one that even a nonartist-trained
viewer can spot a mile away.
Perhaps that’s why so much of the painting seen
on social media today is stiff and sterile? Much of this sort of
work looks ‘much of a muchness.’
So, is it even worth a ‘Like’ on ‘Face Book’,
a Heart on instagram or even a Retweet?
Why not just post the photograph? It’s quicker
and more truthful. Many painters today are
turning to painting outdoors (plein-air) which
in itself is a pleasurable past-time, but a very
antiquated ‘contemporary art-process’ and in
my opinion it has outlived it’s usefulness as an
art form. Even though ‘plein -air’ paintings are a
big seller on the high street. At least the doer of
these (usually) small and cute pictures, paint from
life, don’t they? - But, sometimes it’s difficult to
distinguish these works from ‘photograph-copied’
paintings, and I’m convinced even the ardent
plein-airer’s utilise both practices. The creation of
unique Art for a ‘twenty first century serious full
time artist.’ needs a totally different approach to
all the above.
‘The Human Condition.’ by Henri Magritte, Painted way back
in 1933 ....do you get the point of the irony?
above: Gaspard-Felix Tournachon
Born 1820 died 1910. known as ‘NADAR’.
Speaking of irony, without the above French photographer, known as ‘Nad there would never have
been the ‘impressionists’ It was he that gave up his ‘studio’ to enable the impressionists their first
‘public exhibition’ in 1874 (sic: Nadar Photographic Studio on the Boulevard des Capucines, Paris).
Another irony is the name of that now world renown (very) small group of young artists.
The French critic who ‘christened’ the now widely ‘popular way of painting’ actually wanted Art to look
like photographs. Would you believe some artists still actually paint exactly like the impressionists,
even though its 145 years since they first emerged from the classical art mire of the
French Art Academy.
So let’s place Nadar on the side of Art - and not hold him responsible for todays confused landscape
painters. His full name was; Gaspard-Felix Tournachon btw, - born 1820 and died in 1910.
(note: 16 years later Monet popped his clogs -1926). So now you know who to admire, or ironically,
depending on what side you part your hair, who to blame for the contemporary painting of today.
For me the responsibility for the ‘Progress of painting as an Art Form’ is still largely in the hands of
the many high street galleries in major cities throughout Europe. Should they not begin to introduce
their client listing to a new ‘Art for a New Century’ and stop the reliance on painting based on
reproduction stylistic versions of all the ‘good-old-work’ that some artists carried out from 1900 to
1980? Is it not time to ‘reflect our own era’ more succinctly, more honestly and move forward rapidly,
leaving the past behind, for sure to look back on now and again, but not continue to replicate it?
Talking of moving
...what about Art and
Opposites attract, so they say....is it true with Art and Money?
There can be no doubt that money follows Art - that is when
the Art becomes a trade-able commodity or seen as a product
worth investing in. A product which gathers or has the potential
to gather, enormous financial benefits for investors, albeit, as in
many cases, over a long period of time.
We have witnessed almost obscene mountains of money
exchange hands for ‘Art’ over the last four decades, some would
say a longer time period. And there is no doubt that in recent
times Contemporary Art has been high on the ‘must-buy’ list of
many institutions, pension fund managers and so on. Indeed in
the past the biggest collectors have often been Socialists Workers
Unions (i.e. the Railway Union).
Which in itself is a sort of philosophical political hypocrisy.
Of course the mega auction houses have helped in promoting or
at best, facilitating the platform for these transactions.
Auctions of Art become headline news with familiar You Tube
videos of hammers going down for millions upon millions of
someone’s cash for the all stars of historical or contemporary Art
and the almost sickening sight of audiences applauding the sheer
monetary size of the sale.
to quote Andy Warhol
Photo credits: $’ers ..©Andy Warhol.
Photographys: Creator: Andrew Burton..©2015Getty Images from IPTO photo
above: Turner Prize winner, Martin Creed. ‘A rolled up piece of A4 Paper.’
Someone once said that the twentieth century was when Marketing triumphed over Art, especially
in lifting or exaggerating the bottom line of its actual artistic worth. And it is true that our society has
created a specialist anti-art playing field, significantly when the words Contemporary Art are tagged
after any specific artists work. That word ‘contemporary’ has ceased to be associated with its real
definition and now it is used to identify an Art which sees itself as special or separate from the rest
of Art, one that is perhaps is created outside of Contemporary Arts strict limitations of the accepted
artists process. I am referring to painting or any other creative output that may employ what many
term, with a smirk on their faces, ‘traditional’ or old mediums.
The practice of these ‘Contemporary’ Artists is very much intertwined with the curators of large
institutions and/or the professional high profile art galleries. So much so that now it is not uncommon
for the Galleries representing the Artist to contribute large sums of money to ‘help’ the Art institution
mount exhibitions, apparently, or so I am told.
Personally, I think that ‘deal’, should it be true, is very worrying. Many critical voices envisage the
larger Art Galleries using this system as a sort of ‘back-hander’ to ensure any specific artist gains
an immediate international reputation, merely because the work will be exhibited in one of the world
renown Art institutions and not because the Art is an authentic or an absolute wonderful work of Art.
This inevitably follows with the subsequent financial gain, a gain that is guaranteed for the galley or
the artists representative, even before the Art is actually made available within the public realm.
The other worrying trend is the myopic habits of the institutions themselves when selecting Art.
It does seem that ‘only objects’ that can be mass produced are considered for exhibition.
A contradiction of the very meaning of a ‘Work of Art’ - I think, don’t you?
This habit is possibly down to the Art institutions strategy to prepare the ground for the same ‘Art’ to be
shown around the world in other Art institutions roughly at the same time. It seems deals are made by like
minded institutions, which sort of gives them guaranteed high audience attendance (with the complicity
of the mass media) and thus perpetuates their own international reputation. And I guess it’s a sort of self
congratulatory system of discovering a perfect formula for pulling in the crowds (and the money).
This system also raises an odd thought. If J M W Turner, be alive and creating his Art today, he could never
win the Turner Prize in the UK - But only because each of his artworks would be unique and they could not
be reproduced en mass, therefore disqualifying him from even being entered for consideration in the first
place. On a lesser scale there are the smaller commercial galleries who maintain a stable of selected art
according to their own client list preferences. Whereas the large institutions are funded in the main by ‘tax
payers’ the independent commercial galleries have to meet their own rent and expenses on a monthly basis.
And, I presume, are hoping to turn a profit. So, you can can forgive them for pandering to their clients, even
though it would be to the advantage of any gallery ‘art-trendies’ to consider that constant ‘sell sell’ what’s
trending approach is actually helping Art in any way whatsoever, or is it simply selling products to a selected
market....a bit like Primark..maybe?
the last and final art rant from me, is a question....
“...can anyone please tell me why Artists and Galleries have to post on social media
every single solitary time someone buys a painting from them?
What do they want from the public at large, a round of applause for making money?”
written by ‘SPIKE’ for painters TUBES magazine
Jeff Koons, taking a bow for selling - ‘made by some one else’ - cracked egg’s