DEN HAAG One of the most beautiful painted illusions in the world - Panorama Mesdag - yesterday was joined company by a modern illusionary artwork. The British artist Paul Critchley built a large 'installation' in one of the rooms in the Panorama building. It is an apartment consisting of a hall, living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. But only the walls are real. The windows and the whole inventory are painted. Also the naked lady in the bedroom. But yesterday she was there in life with the artist, although clothed.
"The only thing I've done," explains Critchley, "is just change 3 dimensions into 2 and then painted them so that they look 3 again. I could simply have left them flat and relied on the silhouette, that would probably have been enough to get the message over but not the atmosphere."
In order for the paintings to explain their environment the artist takes the visitor into a whole different world.
Actually all the interior parts are the usual things: a bed, a sofa, a wardrobe. But that's the intention. It must be normal, "Just imagine what they would look like if they were painted in garish flat colours, something from a bad 1960/70s psychedelic trip your parents might have enjoyed/endured. What's important is that the paintings can’t be dated to any specific era as nothing dates faster than fashion."
Critchley actually says he wants to restore "the average and ordinary" and in doing so the reality. At the same time he aims for a particular effect, "It must be humorous, nostalgic, curious, sexy, embarrassing, intriguing, disturbing, exciting and thought provoking. I’m just greedy! Just so long as it’s not boring, because then the atmosphere will be as flat as old beer and the illusion will be as stale as a joke you’ve heard too many times."
Verbeelde Ruimte / A Sense of Place an impressive work by Paul Critchley, until the 13th January 2013. Panorama Mesdag, Den Haag.
Panorama Mesdag is a very large painting of the beach which looks real.
Paul Critchley now conjures with paint in Den Haag.
Kitchen Sink Drama
Diptych, oil on canvas on shaped wooden panel, 195 x 175 cm
In the middle of the Panorama Mesdag museum in Den Haag there is a white house built out of white walls. On one wall is a painted window which is open. It's as though we are looking in through the glass and seeing a woman lying on a sofa. If we continue inside then there is indeed a woman lying on a sofa; she is also painted.
Sculptural artist and painter Paul Critchley is a magician who plays an enthralling game with illusion and reality. The exhibition in the Panorama Mesdag is called Fanciful Space (A Sense of Place), a well chosen name. The works of Critchley surprise and allure, you can look at them for a long time and still discover something new. He gives depth and space to the flat surface of the canvas. For that reason it was such a good idea to give Critchley's painting work a place in the Panorama Mesdag: The originator of the museum, the Hague painter H.W. Mesdag, created a complete optical illusion of the beach of Scheveningen with his panorama-painting.
By the entrance in the museum on the wall hangs a striking painting which is a few meters long. You'll want to touch it as the bricks are painted so well. As you walk along the stretched out wall at the end of it you can go round the corner. In another painting two chairs hover in space, an old fashioned telephone sits on one chair and the handset on the other. Due to the careful way in which the chairs are painted they appear three dimensional. The sub-title indicates a subtle sense of humour: "You had better sit down, I have something important to tell you."
oil on canvas on wooden panels, 255 x 283 cm
According to Critchley his drawings are no more than a way to show what he sees in his daily life. In the catalogue he writes: "All children draw and they draw what happens in their lives." Yet it's not so simple as it seems because when you draw you do so on a flat piece of paper, which is what Critchley the painter also does, but he knows how to create space and depth on a flat surface with paint and a brush. Unrivalled and self explanatory is the painting from 1998 in which he painted his new apartment in Barcelona. We see everything together: down at the bottom the removal men are standing hoisting boxes up, in the middle of the painting we see the living room with the double balcony doors open. Through the doors we see the houses on the other side of the street which we also see in the 'real' part of the painting with the removal men. We see the bathroom and bedroom, even the staircase at the bottom of the work. The peculiarity is that the painting does not use a rectangular form, but looks as if the different parts of the interior fit together like puzzles. Critchley teaches you a new way to look; his work is an adventure for the eye.