illustrated: David Platts with Strawberry Painting 1 at the Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield in 1974
David Platts – One person show – Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield 1974. ‘Letter to the Public’ by Margaret Anderson
It is the artist who, gathering his thoughts, ideas, experiments and experiences together, gives us a refined visual result. What, I have asked myself, is the response of the viewing public? Do we feel something of the artist’s thought and intention, his emotions reasoned to a fine balance? I believe that we do – that an intensity we see in colour, we may also feel and therefore we, in viewing, should be attentive that we look for some of the complementary results of the artist’s intention.
Intention and technique may be both conscious and unconscious and so also may our response.
I am writing this not as an art scholar or critic but as an ordinary member of the interested public and just as I am aware of and appreciate the work and role of the artist in society, I imagine that the response of society must also be of value to the artist. He is, au fond, a commentator either directly or indirectly and his role is to lift society’s thought, to represent in understandable terms to everyone the loftier thoughts, aims and hopes of men.
Some of us may see only the visual beauty and technical dexterity of a painting. Others may appreciate the artist’s eloquence. We all feel intensely some of the intangible facts of existence. They are inwardly known to us. We may not easily see or adequately understand them but they can be made clearer to us through art. We may, therefore, expect to be moved by the artist’s translation of intangible essences into colour and form.
A colour may jolt us, push us into excitement or happiness. Its application may be so perfect and painstaking that its depth and purity will draw us into it. We must be taken out of ourselves and return to ourselves with a conscious awareness of having seen something of the meaning of life in a canvas. We can expect to find humour. We may see parallels drawn in a deliberate juxtaposition of styles – the banal, the intentionally artificial and the superficial against the serious. It is up to us to look out for all this if we are to regard art and the artist seriously.
In this thought-provoking collection of paintings David Platts has indeed fulfilled his obligations as an artist. He has equaled each of the aforementioned expectations. A strawberry is used symbolically throughout and in an invigorating and refreshing way he has shown us a strong spiritual element which is the chief constituent for pure art.
There is a simplicity and bold directness about some of his paintings and between each canvas one is aware of a development and growth. Colours are reversed to alter dimension, enlarging the ideas behind the paintings and one experiences movement and potency.
Not only is the enormous scale of nature’s work presented but the strawberry, in differing ways is suggestive of individual man and his search for himself. Painting No 6 is perhaps the one I find most intellectual. It is strangely difficult to look at and immediately comprehend. As a painting it is as litotes but it is stimulating and significant in the total collection. Painting No 11 has a stirring duality of agony and beauty and in the canvases of disappearing strawberries there is a quality of hovering delicacy and a gentle spiritual presence.
I commend this collection of highly sensitive and powerful work to you for your own investigation and if you do not become involved in a whole field of agreeable responses, as I did, I shall be very surprised.