Gerry Halpen Private View
GERRY HALPIN MBE MAFA
I am a landscape painter, though my perspective is rather different from where we commonly see the world.
My interest is in recording the view from above, usually when making a journey, often abroad though sometimes flying in a light aircraft from Barton aerodrome near Manchester.
Most of us have probably experienced these views from above and looked down with a passive interest but I discovered the potential of these observations for my art when flying back from San Francisco some years ago. The patterns in the landscape over Utah were quite amazing and I began to ‘see’ and record with a new enthusiasm.
Time is of the essence and drawings have of necessity to be quickly done. They are a kind of artistic shorthand of what is viewed in a fairly fleeting moment and as such the results are interpretive rather than factual.
The whole scene is reduced to its linear content where roads become lines, where buildings are mathematical shapes and woodland an amorphous area.
My particular visual interest is in looking at places where different geological features meet, especially where the sea confronts the land. Here there is dramatic excitement where the sea crashes onto rocks or against cliffs, or a calm when the ebbing tide gives way to warm, flat sand.
Whilst the view might appear linear, knowledge tell us that this is not the case and hints of form and shape are revealed through shadows and variations in falling and reflected light.
In order to reconstruct the landscape and express the ideas contained in my drawings, thought had to be given to the media best suited to this approach and acrylic paint offers the versatility I required.
I also use a polymer modelling paste which is a permanent form of plaster and is perfect to suggest the subtle texture when painting on either canvas or paper.
To enhance the glow of reflected light I use pure gold leaf which can sometimes appear to be absorbed into the painting whilst at other times it shines out, giving the work an extra dimension.
When not drawing the landscape from so high up, I love to observe people, though still from a high viewpoint. After choosing a location, often involving hanging over the edge of some rail or parapet, I wait for that unknown quantity of the random passer-by. Because I’m hidden from their view and the angle almost renders them anonymous I don’t intrude into their space. This is the excitement, the unexpected and the uncontrolled element to the work, not knowing who will arrive at my pre-selected spot in the street. I am still involved in the concept of ‘space’ in these paintings and as such they are very much related to the aerial views of my landscape paintings.
In order to emphasise space and movement I often crop the figure which in itself suggests even more space.