Galería Casar, Alicante
Areas of space in the retina of Paul Critchley
Selecting his angle of vision, Paul Critchley (Britain, 1960) focuses on a stereotypical scene and then infuses it with life in the lens of his eye. He brings together perspectives of corners, perceptions of light and the idealisation of geographical realities to achieve his aim of transforming a place into a personal statement. And then he refuses to be bound by functional shapes and conventional forms which might destroy the impact of his work. What he does is to focus the attention and single out that element by means of which rational time is suspended and the true magic of the place and its architecture is allowed to shine forth. Paul Critchley attended St. Helens College of Art and Design before going to Coventry Polytechnic (B.A. Hons., Fine Art 1979 - 82). And then, his academic studies completed, he went ahead - seeking, experimenting and discovering.
The early stages of his career were marked by prizes and scholarships and also by collective exhibitions in Manchester and London, before he left for France. His first individual exhibition took place in 1987 in Hilden, Germany where he had lived and painted for a time before going on to Holland, France and Italy, finally settling in Spain two years ago.
This year he won a prize in the X Premio Nacional de Pintura <Villa de Teulada>.
The exhibition being presented in Galería Casar , Alicante is by no means just an introductory sample of things to come; it is a consummate demonstration of artistic skills and imaginative ideas combined to produce abstracts which make use of shape to get to the soul of a place; vision of the highest order; and to this plain and simple description we must add the play of light, the formal harmonies and finally the tones which bring out the poetry which is all pervasive. Not landscape painting but rather a testimony unfettered by the dictates of conventionalism. Exercising his free spirit Critchley breaks the accepted rules, goes from two-dimensional to three-dimensional and delights in the moment, captured by the angle of vision of his own enchantment. Like scenes viewed through a keyhole by a prying eye; like flashes of light which multiply the tonal possibilities so that reality is transcended and the heart-beat quickens.
Paul Critchley - The presence of Altea in his work
Paul Critchley, British by birth, arrived in Altea almost two years ago. He had already been moving around from one country to another; Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Why now Spain, Why Altea? Marañón says that a man goes where he has to, guided simply by instinct, to a large extent he is right, it is also true that a man tries a thousand and one times before he finds what he is looking for, if he ever does.
What attracts me so much about his work is its extraordinary originality, it is truly startling. I first saw it just after he had arrived in Altea and he has continued along the same line since. 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. Altea has been transferred to canvas with absolute fidelity. Paul Critchley's oils have no frames, they come in irregular shapes, which seem to play whimsical games with the viewer. 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. Within this extraordinary luminosity there is a true feeling of emptiness and solitude; the street itself is the leading actor. The painter relishes what we sometimes discard as valueless.
Composition of fantasy and reality. A stroll through the streets of Paul Critchley
If you like to dream away while strolling through the picturesque streets of a Spanish village, or if you enjoy the cosy atmosphere that - it seems - will never be lost, join us on a journey through the world of Paul Critchley, the person behind the works of art that will be exhibited from 24 September to 25 October at Galeria Casar in Alicante.
Who is Paul Critchley?
Paul Critchley was born in 1960 in the English town of Rainford. After finishing his studies at St Helens College of Art & Design and Coventry Polytechnic Department of Fine Arts, he decided to "go out into the world". His first stop was in Berlin in 1985. He did not stay long, however, because despite the fact, that he attended the ‘folk’ university to learn the German language, he found it difficult to get in touch with people.
A Frenchman he had met in Germany helped him get a new residential address near Montpellier, here he stayed six months. Then he got the itch again and wanted to move on, again his choice fell on Germany, this time, however, on the German/Dutch border, where he could live with school friends in Mönchengladbach. But lo and behold: with the weekly stream of Germans visiting the Limburg town of Venlo, to "billig einkaufen" Paul ended up here. The English artist, who by now was known for not being able to stay long in one place, was beckoned to adventure again, he moved to Venlo.
Of course, Paul had never been idle, and many of his works had already been created. In Venlo, too, he found his inspiration very close to home. Or rather: at home! He painted from head to toe, from the basement to the attic, in a house that he shared with several people (the house was rented out to lodgers). The house was large and consisted of many little rooms, bay windows and a huge staircase, when he finished the painting job with the "last corners", it was once again time to move on.
Since a good friend of the Critchley family owns a house in Spain, namely in Callosa d'Ensarria, Paul decided to take a look here. This was two years ago, since then the artist has only moved once, however, he has remained in the area and currently lives in Altea.
Above the rooftops of Altea ...
It is a fact that Paul Critchley is fixated on his nearby living environment. In the Netherlands, for example, he fixated on indoor architecture (perhaps too many rainy days), in Callosa and Altea, however, he fixated on outdoor architecture.
In his current home that overlooks the roofs of the old village houses, Paul has his studio. The walls in the living room are decorated with real Critchley's, which stand out for their distinctive design, wrong, yet good use of perspective and beautiful colour composition.
Before Paul starts painting, he first makes one or more sketches, he works from his feelings, which is very apparent in his work, the streets are not so narrow and high in reality, and the houses are not so narrow and high, but that's how it feels! The frame, around which the linen is stretched, is part of the painting, which can run from wide to narrow. For example, the outline may consist of the silhouette of two houses in the foreground, cut out. Between these two houses, one looks into the street. Once the linen is stretched over the frame, painting can begin. Here, Paul works with different materials. He paints the background with oil paint. The objects in the foreground are completed with plaster to create a relief. Because perspective is used in a different way than one is normally used to, a spatial effect is created, which can be confusing. Confusing but exciting! It is reminiscent of Escher's artworks. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, an exhibition will be held from 24 September to 25 October next at Galeria Casar, Maestro Marques 4 in Alicante. The opening will take place on Friday 24 September, starting at 20:30.