Ralph Fleck's subjects range from cityscapes and crowds, to subtly monochromatic paintings of the Alps and the twisted detritus of rubbish heaps. Although these themes are revisited again and again they do not form series that extend in a temporal sequence but, rather, they are played off against each other like voices in a continuous conversation.
As a student Fleck had a teacher who insisted that nothing was unworthy of being painted. It is a credo he has stuck with, creating his own painterly language which involves movement between moments of close observation and of objective distance.
Every inch of a painting’s surface is important to him and each is painted with the same absorption and intensity. It is vital that the brush marks are both raw and immediate.
When he paints a mountain or a city it is the idea of a mountain or a city; something of their essence, rather than their particularity that is captured in paint. His cityscapes do not depict a real city, full of history and contemporary bustle, nor are they exactly contemporary versions of impressionism or even expression¬ism; rather, like all his subjects, they detonate a series of ideas and emotions that allow him to take on the challenge of the empty canvas. And, however intuitive a painting may appear, its journey is rarely haphazard, but part of process of looking and a continuing dialogue with the material of paint.