Belfast Telegraph

Uncovering the spirit of landscapes

By Liz Baird

Tom Caldwell Gallery, 429 Lisburn Road, Belfast, Until April 30, Tues-Fri, 10am-6pm, Mon and Sat 10am-5pm

Tuesday saw the opening of an exhibition of the latest works by the internationally known Irish artist John Kingerlee, an opening which was made considerably more exciting by the surprise, and very unusual, attendance of the artist himself.

Although Kingerlee has exhibited in many venues worldwide he hasn’t actually exhibited in Belfast since 2003.

Nonetheless he always acknowledges the “debt of gratitude” he owes to Tom Caldwell for giving his work a chance in the early 1980s when he says: “It was very difficult for me as an artist.”

Born in Birmingham, England, in 1936, he moved to West Cork in 1982, where he was surrounded by the wildness of the rocky landscape, the spectacular scenery and the huge skies.

All this has taken on an almost spiritual significance for the artist and his constant challenge is to make his paint reflect the depth of his experience of nature.

That is no easy task as ‘nature’ for Kingerlee doesn’t stop at the earth, the winds or the tides, but includes man himself and his inner thoughts and feelings, as in the work Mountain & Figure (right). His works are deep, meaningful and complex, with many containing between 50 and 100 layers of paint, often applied over a period of years.

Using his preferred tools of palette knives and decorator’s brush, he applies his own made-up pigments with positive vigour, experimenting and stretching the limits of his medium.

The opening also saw the launch of a new book about the artist, The Whole Planet Is A Garden The Genius of John Kingerlee, by Dr Ted Pillsbury who concludes that, in his opinion, “Kingerlee is the true successor to Turner”.

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