Art, as I have always said, is a very subjective thing with no exact parameters of good and bad, right and wrong and each of us may be particularly drawn to entirely different things.
I have often tried to pinpoint what it is that attracts me to a particular piece of work — is it the colour, the balance, the mood? To be perfectly honest I really don’t know, but I do know what I like and I like the work (well perhaps not every single piece) currently showing in the Engine Room Gallery, Newtownards Road, Belfast.
The artist in question is Alick Knox, now a man in his late seventies, who has been painting and drawing for most of his adult life. He lives in Carrickfergus and is well known for having his own table in his local pub. Here he spends much of his time observing the other pub-goers and recording what he sees — and his observations are quite surprising.
Working in a combination of pastel, charcoal, pencil and wash, he has the style of a much younger man, abstract, expressionistic, vigorous and quirky. His presentation too is interesting, in some cases putting rows of small sketchy sheets, as many as thirty at a time, on a plain, linen background. Overall there is a real feeling of urgency about his work (pictured), as if he has so much to capture and hardly enough time to do it. His hand moves fast, sketching and almost scribbling, jumping from one image to the next in a hurry to get it all down on paper. Sometimes there isn’t even enough paper and he resorts to whatever is at hand.
These are clearly not your average ‘portrait’ images, in fact it is sometimes hard to recognise a face or a figure at all. Perhaps a head there, an arm here, part of a chair, some hair, a torso — all totally abstracted, yet with that certain ‘something‘ that is so hard to define.
Personally, I loved the immediacy, the balance, the injections of colour, the enthusiasm and the positivity, all wrapped up in nearly 100 little drawings.
The exhibition continues until the end of the month.