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Edwin Crips: 'Steadwood & Elsewhere'

28th February – 5th April

“Edwin Cripps, is a self-taught painter but with such extraordinary innate technical ability that it would make our Tracy weep. I would compare Cripps to the finest German painters of the early twentieth century – indeed I’d place him with the NeueSachlichkeit movement led by Otto Dix and Gorge Grotz. I can even see the influence of a much earlier artist – Bosch.

Responding to the view that we are living in the “greatest age of discovery,” inspired by the beauty of nature and the profound questions; ‘Why are we here? What happens in space? What is to be ours and our planets fate?’ Kym creates violent deformed shapes and scenes of a mysterious quality that can be described as expressionistic studies of light, colour, atmosphere and power. She refers to her work, “as pausing a moment in time; giving you the opportunity to think, to be humbled, to forget and to remind.”

This new objectivity in Edwin’s creations are purely imaginative – it’s true post expressionism, with a life of its own, but without the romantic longings of the expressionists. For Cripps is an all British painter. Despite the Teutonic flavour I would place Cripps in the same stable as Hogarth, who captures teeming everyday life. Look again at Hogarth’s major narrative pieces and you immediately see where Cripps is coming from.

One of Cripps’ consummate skills as an artist is his ability – like Hogarth - to make you feel part of his world. Take his ‘Bad Day At Blackpool’. You don’t stand back and observe the spectacle from a safe distance as you would with, say, William Frith. You are drawn in and swept along, jostled from each side, forced to dodge the contents of an emptied piss-pot, screaming yoofs, corrupt clergy, bizarre all-about-me characters, or to step over an inebriated harlot or an out-for-the-count yob. Cripps sees the world as a mad, chaotic, rambunctious place, portrayed with a relish which suggests that he wouldn’t want it any other way.

Not all the paintings here are narrative pieces. We also have Cripps’ take on the belief that doghead humans walked the periphery of the flat planet in the painting ‘The Crux of the Biscuit’. Edwin shows us from 14th century maps that Marco Polo actually went to China to find these dogheads only to be disappointed by the Chinese, who asked him if he had bought one with him!

Edwin says of his ‘Steadwood Series’, which depict the myriad inhabitants of aphantom metropolis “all being ghostly manifestations of former village idiots andurbane imbeciles, who, having created their own demented society, somehowmirror the rigours of life as suffered by the ordinary man.” Or, to quote Frank Zappa:“absurdity is the only reality.”

“I’ve tried desperately, but hopelessly, to capture by photograph the paintings inthis exhibition in order for you the viewer to see the detail and finesse. Believe me,it is not possible to translate the whole effect. Some images are just details from hispaintings. So, I urge you to visit this exhibition and see for yourselves the bizarrely brilliant and uniquely absorbing work of Edwin Cripps.”

Jamie Dillon, Curator of Visage Gallery

 

 

Reading Room Gallery

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