Who said painting was dead?

illustrated: Painting 442 1997-2000

David Platts: De Profundis – Sheridan Russell Gallery, 16 Crawford Street, London W1H 1BS, 2 – 27 October 2007

As the title of the exhibition suggests, these are indeed works that have come ‘from the very depths of the soul’. After a period of some five years in which he suffered the trials and tribulations of a break-down. After M.E. and clinical depression were diagnosed, he resumed his painting and has produced this stunning exhibition of over fifty works that cover the last ten years and which have never been exhibited together before.

Who said painting was dead? For those of us who have long been disillusioned by the present state of contemporary art with its preoccupation with ‘conceptualism’ combined with an obsession for camera and video – much of it reflecting the ugliness of the world we inhabit – how refreshing to see ‘De Profundis’ at the Sheridan Russell Gallery,

There is no ‘slosh and daub’ painting here (for the want of a better expression) nor is there a mechanically produced dot in sight. All is executed by hand by the artist himself. In this fine exhibition we have at last come back to the medieval / Renaissance idea of art as craft in the strictest sense of the word. David Platts can draw and paint! His flowing, interlocking shapes are wonderfully worked out in a variety of permutations and combinations; these shapes are not only meticulously observed but rendered in a variety of colour combinations and painted in a variety of paints encompassing an equally wide range of emotions. Painting No. 453 is full of ‘joie de vivre’ whereas the ‘white paintings’ are quietly contemplative, especially Painting No. 481 with its Rothkoesque quality, (the seemingly bland white ground emits a profound feeling of space and spirituality). There is variety in size, too, from the large, dazzling 442 & 443, both painted in coach enamels, to the small, jewel-like gouaches.

The overall feeling one has after visiting this light, airy gallery and viewing these works is one of “uplift”. It is so gratifying in this hectic, pace-driven world of instant communication to receive a ‘communication’ of another kind, a gentler, calmer, more contemplative, and a dare one say, a more spiritual one. This is an exhibition of great beauty.

David Platts was born in India in 1940 and trained at the Royal College of Art. He lives in North Yorkshire and this his first exhibition in London for twenty years, so don’t miss it.

Nicholas Carlyle – (a review of ‘De Profundis’ 11 October 2007)



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