Lines Continued a prime example of inherited creativity
It seems that some families have artistic genes. As a matter of fact, recent research suggests that creativity may be inherited.
During the Renaissance, the Bruegels were one such family; several generations became successful painters. In more recent times in the US, the Wyeths or the Calder family are examples of this phenomenon. In the UK, the Nicholson clan (William, Ben etc) is another example.
Here in Bermuda there are a number of notable artistic families and currently, one such family is exhibiting their art at the Bermuda Society of Arts. I write of Catherine Lapsley, her son Peter Lapsley and Peter’s wife, Andrea Sundt. The exhibition title is Lines Continued. Considering genetics, the exhibition title seems apt.
Although they are an art family, they each work in distinctly different ways.
For a number of years Catherine Lapsley has been exploring possibilities within the confines of a grid. Although her paintings are stylistically consistent, each painting is notably different. This is largely due is her varied use of colour. Her paintings in this show are bold – sometimes hot, or cool. It all depends on colour. I am told that her abstracts are based on and inspired by landscapes.
Catherine’s earlier work, I thought, was somewhat tentative, but suddenly, now, she has found her voice and her paintings sing.
Andrea Sundt’s art is unusual in that her ground is high quality, polished birch plywood. What is unusual is that she allows the surface of the ground – the plywood, its grain and colour – to become part of the art. On that ground she creates in a crisp, precise manner, abstract designs, mixed in with more naturalistic elements, such as flowers or leaves.
Over allure paintings convey a cool gentleness. Although the surface of the plywood has its polished lustre, her painted designs are flat and matt. She is able also to intermingle precise, crisp designs in such a way that they appear soft. The latter, I think, is due to her use of soft colours.
Peter Lapsley is a miniaturist. Although his art in this exhibition is on the small side, within that limitation he exhibits an obvious skilfulness, especially in the way he handles his materials. Lapsley’s work, small as it is, is notably appealing. His gold work has a jewel-like quality.
In, this exhibition, Peter’s work can be divided into two groups and it seems to me that in either case, he is attempting to say as much as possible with as little as possible.
The first group consists of work made with 24-carat gold leaf. Earlier in my art career, I did a fair amount of gilding, so I have some sense of what is involved in using gold leaf. Peter tells me that when he is applying gold leaf, he holds his breath – I know what he means.
I did the same when using gold, as gold leaf is incredibly delicate. What is exceptional in Lapsley’s case is once he has applied the gold leaf, he then works a design very gently into the gold. On close examination, I detected very fine, geometric lines and also his fingerprints. The latter is a unique signature.
Peter’s second group is his drawings in carbon, a really dark, velvety, almost blue-black, all on stark white paper. The contrast is impressive, as these two elements interact, making the white seem whiter and the black, blacker. Again, as with the gold series, he is attempting to say much with little.
Each drawing utilises only a few liners, each line varying in its line quality; from thick to thin, bold to hesitant. His work can be likened to a whisper, but at times a whisper can make for a very effective emphasis.
It was Goethe, the German literary genius, who said that limitations bring out the master. I think along those lines when considering Peter’s miniatures.
This is an exceptional exhibition and one I commend. It is a treat for the eyes. By all means, go and see it. It is on show at the Bermuda Society of Arts until Tuesday.