The Secret signs which are Hidden in Paintings

From Southwark News:
Galleries & Listings
20 June 2008
By Michael Holland

I AM STILL pondering the genius of artist Ed Gray and the talk he gave at the GX Gallery.

He had us all enthralled as he told of the various – often secret – symbols he uses in his paintings. The last twelve months’ work had a clandestine wings theme, whether that be a can of Red Bull, a statue or a bottle of Woodpecker cider.

Sometimes he places himself in the painting: ‘There’s me with my sketchbook,’ he points out in the Victoria Station picture… ‘That’s me and my wife walking past the gallery in Brixton where I had my first show,’ he discloses.

He explained the torment of getting a composition just right before putting colour on the canvas; of trying different positions for the characters he has sketched and wants to include, and of sometimes not getting it ‘right’ and moving on to another painting.

The paintings are all surreptitiously numbered. The cricketer with one finger in the air signifies the first completed picture; a man holding rolls of wallpaper that form a figure eight tell you (if you’re in the know) that this the eighth in the current series.

Listening to Gray discuss his influences and motivation adds so much more to paintings that already hold enough talking points to keep you going until his next show, but is an addition that complements the enjoyment of his work.

Until Gray’s next show we have Martin Grover’s ‘One Day All This Won’t Be Yours’ show to look forward to. An excellent selection of paintings that, like Gray, capture certain places and times that we can relate to, yet without the clamour of people. Grover’s work is more solitary. Edward Hopper-like in some.

Following on from Martin’s debut solo exhibition (‘Reveries of the Common Place’) his latest show see’s him consolidate that success with a new and strong body of work that resonates wit, wonder, melancholy and romanticism.

Richly painted and beautifully observed some of the paintings use John Betjeman poems to give the works their narrative. Other works are composed as if they are illustrating poems yet to be written. He finds solace and inspiration in the charm of sheds, cracks in the pavement, the allure of twilight, the beauty of artificial lights against darkening skies, park reveries, the way shadows of tree’s creep and crawl over white washed and brick walls, half demolished buildings, flattened tin cans, squashed cigarettes, plastic bags floating on the wing or snagged in trees; in short little glimpses of the passing world.

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