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Derek Balmer: Exhibition 11th September 2014

The studio life of the dedicated painter is akin to that of the religious contemplative. Both spend hours in the pursuance of an objective that more often than not is beyond their understanding. Both the religious contemplative and the painter are tough, single minded and fully committed. They spend much time alone, far from the social exchanges that occupy most people’s lives. The studio and the cell are private places where only the invited enter. In his cell the religious contemplative seeks God; in his studio the painter is god.

The only company a painter has is an inner voice that constantly whispers in his ear. It is not a complicit voice; it does not seek friendship or approval. Instead it questions every mark, shape and colour that the painter chooses. The inner voice creates conflict. This is a good thing. Out of conflict comes resolve.

Each new painting is a fresh start; an adventure; a journey into the unknown. A graphologist can identify style but should allow for shock and surprise. Once a painter anticipates the outcome of his work something dies. Repetition can lead to recognition and acclaim but also says `brand' or `formula'. This is best avoided.

Knowledge of the history of art is valuable to the painter but more important is instinct and intuition and imagination.

Yin and Yang are interesting for a painter, suggesting excess degrees of the masculine or feminine in their work. For example, I believe Picasso was essentially a masculine painter whilst Bonnard was mainly feminine. I admire Picasso believing him to be a genius. But I prefer Bonnard. With Bonnard there is harmony.

A painting is never finished. You just have to learn to let go.

I prefer the shape of an oak leaf to that of an oak tree.

I am intrigued by `Spirit of Place'. I always like to see a signpost that points `To the South'.

My paintings are about memory; memory of woods and forests, of harvests and snowfall, of ancient places visited and chance encounters. Serendipity plays a part. As does that accidental mark made by a wayward brush or palette knife that can turn a preconceived intention into a new direction.

A painting was once a blank empty surface, Leonardo's `Last Supper' or Botticelli's `Birth of Venus' or Picasso's `Guernica.' were once all vacant spaces. I like to dwell on that.

Derek Balmer PPRWA

July 2014

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