Exhibition is sharp and dynamic

Charles Bartlett PPRWS RE ARCA - Recent Watercolours, and David Jones - Oil Paintings is at the John Russell Gallery, 4-6 Wherry Lane, Ipswich until January 17.

Charles Bartlett PPRWS RE ARCA - Recent Watercolours, and David Jones - Oil Paintings is at the John Russell Gallery, 4-6 Wherry Lane, Ipswich until January 17.

It's always a delight to visit the John Russell Gallery over the Christmas period. Normally they have a mixed show but this year, in a brave step, they've decided to do something different; introducing a new artist and also one with whom the gallery have a long history.

David Jones, a Norwich-based painter who trained at Camberwell School of Art has his maiden solo show; Charles Bartlett, the most senior of the artists who exhibit at the Gallery, has also put on a superb exhibition. It's an interesting contrast of work; featuring Jones' abstracts and Bartlett's more traditional approach. As a new year beckons it seems fitting to see both the old and the new.

Jones' paintings, all oils, are large and daring. They would look fabulous in a modern setting, domestic or commercial. Jones is a colourist, working both in bright primary tones and also deeper, more grounded hues. In works like Theatre he creates a multi-layered painting of veils and screens, shapes and symbols. One can imagine walking on to a stage as the drapes of colour take you on a journey to the source. Everything is slightly askew, playing with perspective, but always leading you on.


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Evening, Raga is flatter. Here you start at the bottom of the painting and walk up, but what a painting is this; bathing you in the most emotional of colours, with flashes of light, cocooning you in a landscape of the mind. Meander and Promenade are different, more figurative, their palette younger, but still fabulously interesting, criss-crossing line and playing with form.

Charles Bartlett watercolour paintings are more representational, the exceptions being Moorings At Low Tide, and The Crossing; both of which play with perspective, yet have a sharp, and dynamic clarity.

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Bartlett strikes one as a composer of elements of nature. In works like Essex Shore and Walton Backwaters one is presented with a huge vista,that leads on and on. There is detail in the foreground and a narrow, sensitively lit sky at the top of the paintings. Light is fundamental to Bartlett's work, and he's also a master of mirroring light; eloquently expressed in The Divide and The Reflection. His palette is soft, particularly in the looser works like After The Rain, in which hues are bled and feed into each other. Essentially this show presents a very sensitive view of water, earth and sky. One is left reflecting.

Two superb exhibitions that strike a note for their individuality. Not to be missed.

Sonia Carvill

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