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Piers Ottey Form & Process


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The Ghurka Bridge - 162 x 91 cm

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Piers Ottey Form and Process 29 October to 10 November 2013 at The Gallery, 50 Redchurch St, London, E2 7DP

Zimmer Stewart Gallery www.zimmerstewart.co.uk

"Artists with a sense of humour are agile, deft and defy categorisation, which is wonderfully refreshing when the work is as challenging as is Piers Ottey’s.� Mary Rose Beaumont, art critic & historian


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FORWARD BY MARC STEENE After visiting Piers Ottey at his studio I was left pondering the importance of process and ritual in art and mechanics and the alchemy of creativity. There is something that happens between the idea and the finished piece, the undefinable hand of chance that can make a picture either sing or fail.

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London, Sussex, landscapes, people, landmarks and his own life are the inspiration for most subjects. The work is affirmative, he shuns the dark and morose, preferring to add light and humour to a world too full of the former. At our meeting he told me in great detail of once being offered the opportunity of painting a black horse, on which sat a woman, the owner, dressed in black. After numerous sittings and drawings Ottey arrived at a final image that shows the horse painted brown, its head and legs multi-layered, as if parts of it are in continuous movement. “It was too morose and the horse kept moving” he explained, so he decided to paint the horse brown, much to the chagrin of the horse’s owner. Luckily the painting was not a commission, something he steers well away from. “I only paint things that interest me,” he says, explaining how the only two commissions he has painted made him realise that people tend to commission the painting and not the artist.

Amberley From Lone Beech - 30 x 30 cm Ottey deliberately charts and reveals the process and thinking that goes into each of his paintings, detailing each colour as it is painted as a margin to his work. He willingly reveals the symmetries and relationships he has discovered whilst he creates the architecture for his paintings; two crossing diagonals may mark the centre of painting or lead the eye to a particular colour or form. There is a knowledge of tradition and the classical in his compositions, he cites Coldstream and Uglow as influences and sometimes uses the golden section and other geometry to hold a painting together. When questioned Ottey explains that he finds compositions simple but the process complex, though this might be because the compositions come easily to him and that the process is a longer and harder journey. 4 | Piers Ottey: Form and Process

Amadeus - 137 x 157 cm Alongside the paintings in this exhibition Ottey will display one of his motorcycles, a replica that he has carefully and lovingly assembled. This is a deliberate statement about the power of process and the beauty of form. Ottey describes how a motorcycle is a thing of


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beauty, as beautiful as any work of art. This is spoken by someone who knows not only the motorcycle’s aesthetic qualities, but how to strip it down to its constituent parts and rebuild it, yet still retain that sense of passion. Riding motorcycles is a passion I share with Ottey. We reflected on how it is sometimes like drawing a picture, when you are at one with the machine, travelling through space at speed, working beyond the conscious to the intuitive, drawing the most beautiful lines on the road, as fine as any draughtsman.

motorcycles, is an inspiring teacher and paints wonderfully positive paintings. He comes from a family of artists, and by the entrance to his studios hangs an exquisite drawing; a copy of the classical sculpture of the Laocoon, drawn by a distant relative.

New England Battersea in progress -

Laocoon - pencil drawing by John Campbell,

122 x 182 cm

1860

Ottey is a man of many talents, he loves architecture and converted the studio we stood in and has recently created a new house on the site to live in. He has rebuilt

“Process IS art” I remember one art teacher telling me; and no painting is an end in itself, merely a step on a journey of selfunderstanding and learning. Though Ottey stresses the importance of form and the object, only using the best materials and encouraging viewers to stroke his paintings, he understands this important lesson. It is only in the process that the magic happens. Piers Ottey is something of a polymath, his first London solo show titled 'Form and Process' wears its’ message loud and proud.

Battersea Arts Club - 79 x 100 cm

Marc Steene Deputy Director, Pallant House Gallery September 2013 Piers Ottey: Form and Process | 5


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FORM AND PROCESS As the title of the exhibition suggests, the artworks to be shown will demonstrate the artist's view on both form and process in art. Piers Ottey sees art in most things: An old Brough Superior Motorcycle, buildings, a chair and the landscape (both natural and built). When a chair or other object is right there is something "otherworldly or supernatural"

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about it, the reverse is also true. It is the same with the landscape and also with a painting. Much of the time, but not always, there is an instant reaction or epiphany in arriving at this view on the object, but sometimes it can take years. Piers Ottey appreciates the work of Mondrian, Bacon and Giacometti: Similarly, the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright are also “close to perfection”, their lines are not computer generated as with many buildings today, they are more natural - showing the "artist's hand at work". Piers Ottey’s paintings are characterised by rigorous structure, sometimes using geometry His observations and mark making are his distinctive signature with works often in the square or “golden rectangle” format. The code of colours often seen around the edge of his canvasses form a diary, a record of all the colours used to make the image and in the order they were made and used. For Piers, the edges of the picture are important, so is the geometry between the edge of the canvas and the centre. Primary red and blue form his initial drawing.

Sussex studio, Rietveld chair and New England Battersea in progress 6 | Piers Ottey: Form and Process

The Process of something is how it is conceived, planned and then created: this is a conscious progression from


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The le Vack Brough painting in progress inception to completion, albeit one step at a time, and is the same whether the objective is building a motorcycle, making a chair or painting a painting.

and are used as anchors for other elements added subsequently. The paintings are very personal with a mischievous quality, bordering on the subversive.

A Piers Ottey painting evolves, he follows his process. The final image is not predicted at the start, the process is an evolution and each decision influences the next: “Painting is an adventure, a complete mystery�.

Born in London, Piers trained at Chelsea School of Art in the 1970's and has been painting professionally ever since. He moved to West Sussex in 1980 and set up The Mill Studio Art School in 1994.

For Piers the process of creating the painting is as important as the final result. So changes in composition can often be seen in the finished piece; mistakes, as well as drawing marks, remain in the finished painting

Painting mostly in oils, his subject matter has often been influenced by his travels (to The Alps and Europe) but he always returns to painting from the human form, London and local Sussex landscapes. Using the Piers Ottey: Form and Process | 7


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“Wimbledon” paintings of Patrick Symons as a starting point in the early 1980’s Piers Ottey has since developed his own unique style. Piers' work has been exhibited in London, the provinces and abroad and can be found in private and corporate as well as public collections around the world. In June 2007 Piers won the University of Bath painting prize chosen by the public. The Zimmer Stewart Gallery, based in Arundel, have shown Piers Ottey's work since 2006. James Stewart, founder and director says "Piers Ottey's exhibitions are always exciting, original and well attended. His works are always in demand."

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Norbert Lynton in his essay of 1999 says of Piers Ottey's exhibition of the same year "His many conscious and instinctual choices, rooted in his experience of art itself as well as working with the visible world, give his pictorial statements some independence of it." Mary Rose Beaumont, art historian and critic, writes "Artists with a sense of humour are agile, deft and defy categorisation, which is wonderfully refreshing when the work is as challenging as is Piers Ottey’s. He revels in his power to puzzle the viewer, both visually in the paintings and verbally in some of his titles. He has a propensity to leave out important features in his landscapes whilst still titling them as if they were there, in other words the artist plays at being a conjuror."

Replica Brough Superior motorcycle built by Piers Ottey 8 | Piers Ottey: Form and Process


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The le Vack Brough - 122 x 182 cm

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AUDREY IN KENSINGTON GARDENS. I could write a book about this painting but suffice to say it is the Herzog/Ai Weiwei pavilion at The Serpentine in 2012. Audrey poses grumpily with Mike and his son’s dog. It is about my personal view of the link between Art, Architecture, London, Nature, Dogs and friends.

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Audrey in Kensington Gardens - 122 x 182 cm

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THE MILL STUDIO. This was the last work I did at the West Ashling Studio after six happy years. My studio space was located in the heart of the old Mill building. Like a cave it had incredible vibes. I wanted to paint a devotional painting. The three paintings visible are also devotional works from a cast of the head of Amenemhet III, from 1860 BC, in the collection of the Glyptotek Museum in Copenhagen. The cast and the studio itself share special qualities.

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The Mill Studio - 183 x 229 cm

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FRANK. I painted the Shard twelve times throughout its construction. This one is painted in Lovat Lane in the City. This is a tiny steep twitten near St Pauls on the north side of the river. The drama of the building took my breath away as only London contrasts can. It should hang with the bottom of the painting at the viewers’ eye level (in an ideal world).

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Frank - 182 x 122 cm

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THE FOUR CHIMNEYS. London is in my blood. The Power Station has lain empty since I was a child and welcomes commuters into Victoria by train each day. The series of Battersea paintings were my attempt to capture the majesty of the largest brick built structure in the country. This particular vista is unlikey to ever be visible unobstructed again.

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The Four Chimneys - 122 x 182 cm

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HACKNEY NEW YEAR. My Hackney studio is my refuge. Real London. I always work there with Audrey. We were the only ones there on New Year’s Day 2013 so I decided to paint the occasion. The painting of it lasted some time. Audrey was tucked in my jacket.

HACKNEY TO ISLINGTON. After work at the studio I usually walk the dog through London Fields to the canal then either south to Victoria Park or north to Islington. The canal gives one a timeless glimpse of London old and new. Another personal painting.

THANK YOU HACKNEY. This really is a thank you painting. Hackney has given me back my London roots . The Hackney Empire is near the studio and to me stands as a symbol of a lost London.

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Hackney New Year - 122 x 92 cm

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Hackney to Islington - 122 x 92 cm

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Thank You Hackney - 122 x 92 cm

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Tartan Battersea - 90 x 160 cm

ZIMMER STEWART GALLERY Zimmer Stewart Gallery in Arundel, West Sussex, shows contemporary works by emerging and established artists through an on going programme of eight to ten exhibitions each year. The work on show includes paintings, original prints, ceramics and sculpture. Founded by James Stewart and John Zimmer in 2003, the gallery has built up a reputation for its varied exhibitions, refreshing discourse and a “discerning eye�

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Sarah - 91 x 71 cm

Back cover image – Lone Beech, Arundel Park - 72 x 92 cm

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Zimmer Stewart Gallery 29 Tarrant St Arundel West Sussex BN18 9DG 01903 882063 james@zimmerstewart.co.uk www.zimmerstewart.co.uk

Piers Ottey – Form & Process  

Piers Ottey is a man of many talents, he loves architecture, converted his own studio, and has recently created a new house on the site to l...

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