London Lantern

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Watercolourist Harry More Gordon at The Francis Kyle Gallery

11/05/2008, By

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 1516 votes

For his tenth exhibition with Francis Kyle Gallery the distinguished Scottish watercolourist Harry More Gordon has assembled a new body of still lifes and flower paintings, enlivened with a typically startling range of disparate elements. While every flower he portrays "explosively asserts its identity with absolutely no self-esteem problem," (Rhoda Koenig), in the still lifes More Gordon's almost wicked accuracy of observation joins forces with his sense of humorous fantasy to give a narrative edge to even his most guileless subjects.

In the busier compositions the variety of incongruous objects he brings together – cups, feathers, fruit, fabrics, puppets – seem poised to link hands and perform a kind of metaphorical conga around the picture surface.

Following the major public retrospective held at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland in 2005 More Gordon reduced his commitment to portraiture. Travel to rendezvous with sitters has been largely replaced by more free-ranging, international sorties, last year alone taking him three times to the Far East. Such experience has undoubtedly added a new dimension (plus new potential narrative threads) to some compositions, for instance Indiana, painted after his first visit to the Indian sub-continent.

Chinamania brings together his long nurtured fondness for early Chinese blue and white, caught with a delicacy comparable to the skills exercised by the original ceramic artists he reveres, with robust imagery prompted by his personal encounters with the People’s Republic.

For all his joy in theatre and make believe, which in creating these improbable compositions seems to stretch ever further his prodigious technical skills as he distinguishes effortlessly between the natural and the man-made –such as nuts, insects, berries, set alongside their simulacra in glass or ceramic – Harry More Gordon has his feet still firmly planted in the natural, botanical world.

Just as the artist’s conversation piece portraits have owed something to Dutch family and group portraiture in the Golden Age, so his flamboyant flower paintings with their dramatic vases on textile bases artfully tilted in post-Matisse perspective are also indebted to the great floral pieces of that era, captured as the blossom comes to fullest bloom.

To adapt Baudelaire’s comment on Constantin Guys, ‘the painter of modern life’, More Gordon would certainly have no difficulty (as he has shown us from time to time) in delineating with the deftest brushwork the profile of a falling petal as it floats to the ground.

Harry More Gordon has held nineteen exhibitions in Great Britain, the United States and Italy since 1971. He has been represented for the past twenty five years by Francis Kyle Gallery, where he has held ten one-man exhibitions. He has also contributed from time to time to the Gallery’s theme exhibitions, notably Blue and White: still life on a classic theme by contemporary painters.

Alongside still life and flower compositions, Harry More Gordon has made a specialty of painting ‘conversation piece’ portraits of families observed in their own environment, travelling widely in Europe and the United States to fulfil these commissions. A major retrospective exhibition of his portraits in watercolour was shown at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland in 2005.

More Gordon was one of Ten British Watercolourists shown at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao in 1987, when two of his paintings were acquired for the Museum’s Permanent Collection. In 1993 his work was included in Art in Bloom: flowers in historical and contemporary painting, shown at Kirkaldy Museum and Art Gallery. More Gordon’s work is represented in the Permanent Collections of the National Gallery of Scotland, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Scottish Arts Council, Flemings Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

10th June to 10th July
Francis Kyle Gallery
9 Maddox Street
+44 (0)20 7499 6870

Monday to Friday: 10 am - 6 pm
Saturday: 11 am - 5 pm

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