Galerie Rath, Köln
Introduction by Irmguard Fuerst
Every artist develops his or her own strategy for seeing and grasping the world, for "getting a grip" on it, for coping with it. This is also the case with the Englishman Paul Critchley, whose exhibition "New Dimension II" opens here tonight.
The theme of Critchley's pictures, space as a section of reality, is presented to the viewer in a way that is unusual for him. In order to make reality clear in its differentiation, the painter uses the means of perspective distortion; i.e. the traditional picture boundaries, the otherwise usual rectangular form of the panel picture is broken up from within, the space steps beyond the narrow limits set for it. It determines the outer format of the pictures and thus creates an aesthetic space that exaggerates the real perceptible one. In this way, an overall view of reality is made possible.
The irregular shape of the picture forms gives the artist the freedom to describe his thoughts and feelings about the environment more precisely. Each picture contains at the same time different spaces, views and perspectives, so that reality in its differentiation and in its wholeness is nevertheless represented uniformly, scale, colour and tone, this unity is achieved.
Critchley remains realistic in the reproduction of the details of his pictures, so that the viewer is able to recognise the components of reality as their own. Nevertheless, the borders to surreality seem to be imperceptibly removed as a result of the means of perspective distortion. Something abysmal, even macabre, becomes perceptible, also caused by the allocation of props in the interiors, which create a different feeling of life in the viewer by presenting a reality experienced under different conditions.
The artist paints pictures and exhibits them. Every viewer can occupy them, he can also abuse them.
Reality is never experienced objectively by human beings, but always perceived and processed subjectively. Thus the visitor to this exhibition has the opportunity to form his or her own opinion about the objects on display. Their spaces and their contents, to think up their own stories. This would also be in the spirit of the artist's intention.
But pictures do not quickly reveal themselves to the eye, they are the product of the painter's unique individual psychological and spiritual situation. - Critchley's statement that it does not bother him in any way that he himself does not understand the reasons why his subconscious prefers one object to another probably belongs in this context. What is important for him is that the pictures stimulate his and the viewer's imagination instead of boring it.
You, dear friends of art, will certainly not feel boredom when looking at these paintings.
Thank you for your attention. Mr Critchley is here this evening.