words | Elena Scialtiel
Are they cakes topped with fancy royal icing? Are they play-doh flakes flattened by a toddler’s thumb and splattered in collages? Are they mosaics made of drops of sea-smoothed coloured glass? None of the above: these colour- some photographs of his favourite a first lick of thin paint, and if he ful pieces are original paintings by views from Gibraltar, Cadiz and likes the effect, he goes on decontalented Gibraltar-based Welsh Sierra Nevada. Then he applies structing the details by slapping on landscapist George L. Williams, a little heavy-handed with oils perhaps, even more with creativity. Although the busy Gibraltar International Art Exhibition overwhelmed his small and understated entry last autumn, to the discerning eye George’s work stands out at first glance for its novel approach to figurative, hanging in balance between realism and modular abstract, with a predilection for pastel and candy hues and sharp textures with an élan for bas-relief. George picks a pristine canvas, usually not larger than a quarter square metre, and sketches a landscape, including a fair amount of detail, inspired by charming sites he committed to memory, aided by
Paint in its purest form, as it is squirted out of the tube, is the true protagonist of George’s work
When thick is genius
the canvas dollops of paint which he may later flatten with palette knives, brushes and occasionally thumbs. But if the method seems simple, achieving the right effect requires a keen eye to tell apart what contours can be blurred and what must be highlighted to portray the overall personality of a cityscape, a seascape or mountain scene, without indulging in superfluous and distracting pointers, such as house windows, ship masts or even people. And without ending up with something that looks like a chewing-gum disposal board! He used to paint with acrylics but they dry too quickly and didn’t allow him to play with the paint viscosity before it freezes in its definitive shape. Sometimes he lays it so thick it takes a couple of days to dry, which gives him time to fashion it suitably. Paint in its purest form, as it is squirted out of the tube, is the true protagonist of George’s work, where plasticity is the answer to the relative absence of perspective and chiaroscuro, as he explains: “I see my use of it these days as giving it more life and respect, fully exposing its texture and real qualities.” It’s a bit like an adult form of finger-painting — and way costlier too, since the materials alone are pricey. This, together with the combined weight the canvas will have to support, is the reason George keeps his works to the right of the metre’s decimal point. Overlooking the financial aspect of art, he would like to experiment on a larger scale however, because it would allow him to salvage more detail from the underlying sketch, and add even more layers. It’s interesting how the detailed drawing is still visible when George flips his canvases to the obverse, as if he’s playing a guessing
GIBRALTAR MAGAZINE • MARCH 2014
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