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Colin Fraser

Much of what Colin Fraser paints is intangible - light, air and the feeling of a specific mood or memory. And while it his own experience of these things which he shows, he always leaves enough space for us to inhabit them as well, and to connect them to our own inner lives. Fraser invites us to breathe in the painting`s light and air and to populate the moment with our own conjured memories.”

Dr Eva Schneider Art collector and writer.

Colin Fraser is the antithesis of the layabout Bohemian artist; he’s in the studio every morning without fail. Sounds like hard graft. But he wouldn’t really describe it this way. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. According to Colin, once he’s settled in his studio, the painting itself does all the work.

“The discipline of working every day gives you the ability to trust in what you’re doing. The struggle disappears and you lose the fear factor. What’s left is the work itself — and you learn to let this take over,” he says. Athletes call it ‘the zone’, Stephen King calls it a ‘telephone call from God’. And although Colin is not keen on the horror writer’s description (“makes it sound too mysterious”), he does recognise the satisfaction of reaching a state at which technical considerations disappear and the pure creative impulse takes control. “It’s where the intellectual part of the mind is subdued and the part of you that laughs and cries comes to the fore,” he says.  

What’s enabled Colin to reach this heightened state is nearly forty years of dedication to the craft of painting. His first show was in 1979, but the second didn’t follow until 1990. During his eleven year hiatus, Colin dedicated himself to mastering the technique of egg tempera, wherein powdered pigment is mixed with egg yolk and water, and applied little by little, layer by layer.

It’s been used by artists from Michelangelo to the late Andrew Wyeth. Egg tempera is incredibly time-consuming, but the reward is a luminescent quality quite unlike anything that can be achieved by conventional oils. For a supreme technician such as Colin Fraser this is a goal worth pursuing. He readily admits this his still lives are all meditations on a moment and on light: there’s none of the symbolism seen in a still life ‘vanitas’ master like Pieter Claesz. No skulls here. Instead, the paintings in this radiant new collection for the Catto Gallery invite viewers to bask in the magical glow of the Nordic sun (Colin is a Scot now settled in Southern Sweden).

Perhaps it’s best to let the artist himself describe the work. Of Still White, he says: “it’s a special room, the clock ticks and the air floods in, early morning light imposing itself . . .” Meanwhile Red Glow is described thus: “Long Swedish shadows echo their objects, the world is reflected in that jug . . .”

We’re delighted to let some of that Scandinavian late summer sunshine flood back into The Catto Gallery once again.