Thing of the Day

Hugh Miller: The Glasshouse Mill Series

MAY 21st 2011 

Hugh Miller exhibitionThe Glasshouse Mill Series is a collection of rather large, rather exciting paintings by Hugh Miller that are currently being exhibited at The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, E1. 

    Was told by a number of people that I really should go and see Hugh Miller’s work, so had a look at the website. The images looked vaguely interesting but didn’t really grab hold – little thumbnails of pleasing colour, square landscapes… made a polite note and filed it somewhere at the back of my mind, not really expecting to find time to go there. Looking at art online can so often be so misleading, it's never truly a good thing (unless it has been made to be seen online). You're at the mercy of the monitor, the photographer...  So a mental note was made, not really expecting to check it out in the flesh - not until an emergency dash to Chrome and Black for fresh ammunition and a rush down to the Brick Lane area became a necessity (that's Chrome and Black, the spraypaint shop, just off the top of Brick Lane, a painters' candy store alive with a vast arsenal of colour).  And there they were, Hugh Miller’s great big seven foot square canvas pieces, jumping out of the glass house of a gallery space and demanding attention. The people who told us were right (special thanks to Rachel Silver here flagging it up).

Hugh Miller painting

     This instantly striking show actually runs until May 23rd (it opened on the 17th, shame it gets such a short run, gallery hire is an expensive thing for a working artist). You’ll find the work hanging in the great big glass windowed gallery space that’s around the back of the Truman complex.

   So anyway, there they were, eighteen or so great big canvas pieces, alive with energy, bursting with shape and colour, with drips and glow, there demand we come in and soak them up. We’ll put some photos up here that will give you a little more of a clue that the thumbnails on the artist’s own website so, but you really have to be in the room with them all. I’d love to see Hugh Miller actually at work - apparently all these were created in a manic six weeks. Landscapes and pulled together bits of places, spirit of place, trees, Hugh miller exhibitionwaterfalls lost behind leaves, bits seen in Japanese films sharing the same canvas as memories of visits to Betws-y-Coed, some of it almost like places would be if painted by Jackson Pollock – you really can’t see the marks or the energy via little images on websites. Masses of paint, great gobs of furious colour, as if he can't get enough of it. Feels like he's trying to physically grasp the light in these places - the light coming through leaves, off water.  The colour seems unsubtle, worked  in great extravagant lumps of paint in places, thrown and squeezed direct, but you step back and get the mixing in the eye, the vibrancy of sunlight and transparancy. The size matters - he wants the colour to overwhelm the senses the way standing in a wood does. Smaller paintings in a back room show that there's real depth to his landscapes - atmospheres and weather caught in a few strokes.  Very free and expressive,  the big ones cheerfully manic, blasting aside the niceness that creeps into landscape painting whilst retaining the sense of place. And I do like that the edges of the canvases are so alive with the speed of the marks and the energy that has gone in to the work on the front…

studio“I wanted to push the possibilities of creating an illusional environment. The canvases became increasingly more manipulated, references to actual locations were left behind. I wanted to address the romantic complacency for landscape painting by overwhelming the viewer with size and speed, preventing a safe consumption of the picturesque. The various options that paint offered provided infinite opportunities for exploration rather than depiction, and progressively concentrating on the canvas surface itself resulted in their own dynamic life occurring”. 

Really is worth the effort of going to see art in the flesh... especially these paintings. These photos do the work absolutely no justice whatsoever.


Hugh miller 


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