Colour. Vibrant colour. The walls of Meirion Ginsberg’s solo show in Oriel Tegfryn are hung with paintings whose vividness is striking. The strong palette of colours used by the artist is arresting and engenders an energy that demands the viewer’s attention. Whether it be a portrait – male or female – or paintings of people ‘in action’ as it were, colour abounds.
An example of this is ‘Farmer with Dogs’. The Farmer, adorned in his Sunday best of black suit and white shirt, and accompanied by two similarly coloured border collies stands in a landscape exploding with colour. The cobalt and Prussian blue sky vividly contrasts with the gnarled and twisted silhouetted tree, which in turn contrasts with the intense colours of the foreground – a kaleidoscope of short paint strokes in punchy pinks, yellows and greens. And in this swirl of colour stands the Farmer with his two dogs, all three in their sombre coats of black and white. The painting’s composition also pleases, for the eye travels on a diagonal from the recumbent collie, to the Farmer’s finely wrought face as he and his dogs patiently pose in their Sunday best.
Another diagonal intersects the painting entitled ‘Clothes Line’ where a woman positions her formidable washing line prop to take advantage of a glorious summer’s day. The black shadow pooling at her feet and the brightness and lightness of the hair on her crown speaks of a hot midday sun as the viewer is presented with a bird’s eye view by Ginsberg of a suburban garden. Beyond the woman and her gently swaying laundry is the suggestion of well-tended hedges and a greenhouse. Ginsberg’s deft handling of light and shade means that we do not need the confirmation of a blue sky to know that this is ideal clothes-drying weather.
The ’Dog Walkers’ do, however, inhabit a canvas that depicts blue skies and fluffy clouds. The three figures – a man, a woman and a boy – also share the space with a horse, a pigeon and two dogs. These disparate ‘actors’ inhabit a canvas that presents both movement and stillness, both peacefulness and danger. The sum of the painting’s parts creates a whole that is another feature of Ginsberg’s work – its humour. Who can fail to smile at the partially hidden dog in the painting’s lower left hand corner that locks eyes with the viewer as if asking if we can explain the mayhem that swirls around him?
The eyes of the women in the portraits of this collection also often gaze back at the viewer. The viewer is subjected to a scrutiny that is sometimes gentle, often assertive and at times almost contemptuous. The backgrounds vary from stylised interiors to naturalistic exteriors, to abstract and organic shapes and patterns, but the focus is always on the women and their unflinching gaze. Ginsberg’s women are strong, forceful and very present.
In this exhibition of Ginsberg’s latest work, the viewer will be treated to riotous colour, admirable composition and – something that is so often lacking – humour.
Meirion Ginsberg’s solo exhibition is currently showing at Oriel Tegfryn on Ynys Môn until 16th February 2019.