Saturday, 6 December 2014

Robin Gerris / Henry Wallis

Henry Wallis
The Death of Chatterton
oil on canvas
62.2 x 93.3 cm
Tate Britain, London

Silence, ominous situations. What has been and what is about to happen? A certain vulnerability or transition within depicted images is what inspires me. Tensions that provoke the viewers or invite them to contemplate about the seen image or their own perception of the image. Sometimes I prefer abstract art, and sometimes figurative. There are a lot of artists that inspire me. Some more then others but every work I see leaves its traces in my mind. From the heavy material based installations by Carl André to the pictorial images shrouded in darkness by Caravaggio. From the meditative, elementary and planned drawings by Jan Hoving to the narrative tonal after-images by Luc Tuymans. The works that inspire me the most depict a certain fragility from the makers own hands. This varies from the illusion of painting, the subtle and careful handling of the material or the carefulness in which the story of the image is translated with the chosen material.

For exactly that last reason I chose the painting “The Death of Chatterton” (1856) by Henry Wallis (1830-1916). The painting is made with utmost care for detail and realism. It shows the exact moment where Thomas Chatterton, a poet and forger from 1770 who grew out to a cult hero, committed suicide at the age of 17. As a viewer I got the feeling that I opened the door to the attic myself and found Chatterton on his bed breathing out his final breath while his ethereal being left the attic through the window. The intimacy of this moment and the intensity of the decision is tangible in the painting. It creates a direct and confronting awareness of our fragility as humans. It gives the viewer space for contemplation and self-awareness at the same time. A wonderful piece that continues to inspire me.

Robin Gerris, 2014

Robin Gerris (NL)
Monolith 3
phototransfer on plaster, latex paint, tightening straps
200 x 100 x 25 cm

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