James Rowley

As a painter primarily of still life, ‘reflections’ is a word that carries at least two distinct meanings.

Fundamentally, the depiction of observed objects, placed singly or arranged in relation to others, is a reflective process, with the painting being a record of, embodying in material form itself, the time spent in quiet contemplation of things, however apparently mundane or inconsequential, that often have associations and meaning embodied in themselves and of which we can be mindful as we study them. One can then reflect upon the painting in turn as it becomes an object of contemplation, extending its life and associations beyond the here-and-now of its making.

Reflections can also, literally, be visually apparent as they occur upon the surfaces of physical objects, the built environment and in the natural world. Within my own habitual working practice, as objects’ forms are described by natural light and the ever-changing nature of, so the reflective properties of their individual surfaces, to a greater or lesser degree, contribute to the reception of this visual information and inform the translation of it into the painted surface as it represents the phenomena of the still life composition, the objects in a defined space.

In the case of the particular painting ‘Two Freds and Retro Wallpaper’, I again took up the challenge of Euan Uglow – whose work I admire and who on one occasion in the 1970s painted such an object, then ubiquitously contemporary – of depicting (the appearance of) plastic, still a relatively modern material in the context of the history of still life, which displays its own specific surface qualities (e.g. the two ‘Fred’ figures subtly differ from each other), reflecting light to varying degrees, as, indeed, does the horizontal plane upon which the arranged objects stand.

In such a context, the play of the natural light of the studio is mercurial and thus the painting process is very much one of active contemplation, responding to subtle changes of light and constantly reflecting upon what is observed in the moment in order to inform the decisions made in the placing of the individual brush strokes that constitute part of the whole.

Alternatively, the painting, as portal, might suggest reflection upon the time in which such objects of a certain identifiable vintage were manufactured and the culture in which they were present, and comparisons with the contemporary world the painting inhabits, or perhaps considerations of the differences between machine and mass-production and the unique handmade artefact.

A native of North Wales, I began my art and design education with Foundation studies at NEWI Wrexham, subsequently graduating with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art: Painting from Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education in 1998. Since, I have continued to draw and paint and occasionally pursue other creative practice, exhibiting in numerous group shows and maintaining an online presence at www.theoppositeoftomato.wordpress.com/ and www.aesthetesfoot.blogspot.com/ (for a more extensive archive), and also on Instagram @jamesrowleyartist.

Two Freds and Retro Wallpaper
Oil and graphite
40 x 50cm