Douglas Wilson RCA (Royal Cambrian Artist) will be exhibiting this November in Highgate. This fine and distinguished artist will be showing a small group of his popular and highly acclaimed landscapes.
Douglas Wilson RCA, b.1936, is a man of parts; talented as a teacher, illustrator, watercolourist, etcher and experimenter (in the 60s and 70s) in abstraction.
Wilson's career as a distinctive landscape artist, as a "ruralist" from the city who moved to the country, coincided with the founding of The Brotherhood of Realists. His concentration has been on a naturalistic approach to landscape. However, these polished, sophisticated works, masterful in their technique, are only superficially genteel and - portentous as much as nostalgic - not wholly as they seem. His paintings of his adopted place of Shropshire and the Welsh borders, indicate a yearning for a vanishing world, for the era of Elgar, AE Housman and Mary Webb, of beauty in orderliness. Mood, a preference for soft, warm, light, lowering skies, an idiosyncratic perspective of looming plants, the promise of a home on the road, are intrinsic components.
This terrain is Wilson's 'acre'. Sequential, dreamlike paintings, with atmospheric titles: 'Rendezvous', 'Eerie Gentian', 'The Witness', 'Solstice', are the equivalent of short stories, many of them inspired by collaboration with his poet wife, Heather, and preserved in the amber of memory on canvas. Horticulturist, gardener, above all observer, Wilson returns to subjects, the annual blossoming of the fruit trees, painted by moon light, or city scenes from his travels abroad. This exhibition is of pictures from Home and Away. 'Model Sailing Boats in the Tuileries Gardens, Paris', are an opportunity to broaden his palette, introduce bolder colours. Pictures are populated (italicised words and phrases courtesy of Heather Wilson's poems) by 'unearthly' Triffid-like plants and solitary, stock-still figures 'seeming to hear beyond familiar sounds'. These magnificent blooms, magnified and to the fore, provide a positive chorus in Douglas' isolated idylls, unlikely to be appreciated except on Fair days and high days.
Though recognised for his attention to detail, natural control of tone and for the luminous quality of his greens (impasto followed by glazes - cool to warm - achieving colours that cannot be mixed on the palette), Douglas remains experimental, innovative and unpredictable. He has also been painting more freely and consequently abstractly in this new body of work. Definition and 'hazy light' are combined.
When asked, metaphorically, about the company of artists he would keep, first off the tongue are Lucien Freud, Rembrandt. Holman Hunt is cited for capturing that peculiarly British "afternoon light" that he loves. The works of John Piper and John (rather than Paul) Nash speak to his native awe as have near contemporaries David Inshaw and Ben Levene.
With all of the above, Douglas Wilson's alchemy of fantasy and reality, his isolating in time and space, of the dream, the ideal and the unforeseen, suggest he should be made an Honorary Brother of The Rural Brotherhood.