British artist Paul Critchley's huge paintings perplexed customs at Sheremetyevo airport . They were probably overloaded with work over the last week. Critchley's seven canvases with Spanish views are some of the many works of art from all over Europe that are arriving for the 3rd annual international art fair, Art Manege, which starts Friday. "It's a real financial risk" said Critchley, who paid for the space at the exhibit in June before the economic crisis hit Russia. "You've got to take chances" he said, smiling. Taking risks is nothing new for Critchley. He studied at an art school in England but his real education started when he moved to Berlin in 1985. "At the time, Berlin was an isolated city behind the Iron Curtain". The experience made him realise what he needed as an artist.
"I moved from one country to another... and my experience of it inspires my imagination to see my surroundings in a different way."
The formula works for Critchley. He has achieved critical acclaim for his art and has exhibited all over Europe. He paints everyday scenes such as his cluttered apartment or the view from his window. Every time he moves the subject matter stays the same.
In Spain, Critchley met Russian artist Vladimir Gobozov, whose realism instantly caught his eye. Gobozov will also display his work at Art Manege.
Critchley, having lived in Barcelona for several years now, is ready for a new environment and says Russia may be his next stop.
English Painter, Spanish Flair.
The Hitchcockian, perspective-twisting art of Paul Critchley is to be shown on Russian soil for the first time this week, bringing a breath of the brooding sun-drenched urban landscapes of Barcelona to the frozen streets of Moscow.
The artist's work has already met considerable acclaim in western art fairs in Barcelona and Frankfurt and, after a chance meeting with Osetian artist, Critchley has now ventured East to show his work at an exhibition at the Manege hall on Friday December 4th.
Critchley's work leaps out beyond the constriction of traditional single plane frameworks to produce startling pictures that immediately impress with their myriad of viewpoints and original perception of space.
The painter left the drab greyness of his hometown of Manchester over a decade ago and has since been soaking up the atmosphere of the continent, painting the angst-ridden mystery of pre-unification East Berlin and then moving on to explore the fascinating play of light in the cities of Italy. Critchley now lives in Barcelona and has brought with him on his first trip to Russia several of his major works depicting the bright intensity of the city's streets.
One Spanish critic, P. Escanero de Miguel once expressed astonishment at Critchley's chameleon-like ability to immediately immerse himself in the atmosphere of his surroundings and reproduce these impressions in his paintings.
"One gets the impression that this young Englishman has been so captivated by our land, our air, our streets, that the purest Spanish traditions now flows from his paint brushes. The process of assimilation is like a flash of lightening. ... His streets become narrower before our eyes, as if to imprison us within them; his white walls of vibrant limewash stand out under a sky of intense dazzling blue, the respectable tiled roofs seem to be whispering to us tales of a thousand and one nights; precisely because they conceal part of this mystery where the empty streets call out for the presence of the great absentee - man. ", he wrote.
One can only hope that Critchley will choose the streets of Moscow as the next subject for his art.