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John Eaves

August 1, 2014

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Red Growth. 2012. Watercolour

It is often the small, apparently inconsequential things that give the clue to what concerns an artist. Pinned to the wall in John Eaves’ studio is a group of found objects: a flattened toad, a tiny bat corpse, an elongated frog, its legs dangling, and a couple of pieces of rusted metal. The metal pieces are strangely angled, cut-off geometric shapes. A random arrangement perhaps, added to in an ad hoc way but it is intuitively composed, the rich orange redness of the rust reveals how attuned Eaves is to colour and each component of this small installation has a autonomous existence which connects it to its fellow objects.

EAVES Rocks, Cornwall, 1989 Watercolour

Rocks Cornwall. 1989. Watercolour

His work is fed by an empathy with landscape and the natural world. It is the structure that attracts him, the strata of rocks and the organization of form. He draws outside making close observational studies, but returns to the studio to refine his ideas. He abstracts from remembered and observed experience of place, deconstructs the geometry and then the shapes are manipulated, reconsidered, taken apart and reconstructed into beautiful abstractions that are in the nature of improvisations. As a musician, his instrument is jazz flute, improvisation is his modus operandi and although he does not work from it directly, ‘you can’t force connections’, music runs parallel with his art. He cites Cezanne’s structure as an important influence and having recently seen footage at Tate Modern of Matisse cutting large sheets of paper for his collages he was fascinated by his speed and accuracy. Awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship to research Emil Nolde in the 1980s his attachment to Nolde’s fluid colours and swift execution has stayed with him.

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Eaves is renowned for his use of colour: deep luscious ultramarine, inherited from those rich tones of lapis lazuli used for the Madonna’s cloak in Quattrocento altarpieces; jewel-like shifting tones of reds and yellow-oranges, pinks and purples line up next to each other in his work. From the experience of the landscapes through which he moves, vibrant intense shades emerge subliminally, their purity distilled from those touches of brightness barely glimpsed in the open mouth of a tiny orchid petal, the red of a wild strawberry or the reflection of sky on sun-lit water. Such tints, hugely expanded and glowing find their way into his powerful large paintings where they sing with joyous, pitch-perfect colour. In his collages the paper is cut, hard-edged at one point, then torn creating a rhythm of contrasting edges and vibrating hues. His materials are sourced from endless boxes of papers saturated in watercolour, which he mixes from dried pigment and stores in glass jars. For his painterly prints he preps his plate and often prepares his paper with swathes of colour before heading off to 107 Workshop to print.

EAVES Towards The Centre, 2010. Oil on canvas

Towards the Centre. 2010.  Oil on canvas

 

Links and connections are what currently concern Eaves and in lieu of another retrospective, he had one five years ago, he is putting together an exhibition for the autumn, which will consist of small works. Drawings and landscape studies in crayon and watercolour, ‘litho chalk is lovely to draw with’, will be seen together with small oils on canvas in his signature abstract slashing compositions. A gift to those who will revel in seeing the clarity of his thought processes and the way in which he naturally moves from surface to surface, medium to medium and develops his themes, never repeating the same motif, but investigating each one until it reaches its natural conclusion before offering a way forward into the next work.

EAVES Quarry Stone, 1985. Gouache

Quarry Stone.  1985 Gouache.

© Fiona Robinson, 2014

Article originally published in [Evolver] July/August 2014

 

John Eaves: Small Beginnings. 6 September – 23 November 2014

Victoria Art Gallery Bath.

 

John Eaves, Paintings and Prints since 1976. 8 – 20 November 2014. Anthony Hepworth Fine Art, Bath

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2014 5:17 pm

    Lovely article Fiona and I look forward to seeing the work in September

  2. August 1, 2014 8:47 pm

    Lovely review!   Your writing is exquisite!    Love, f

     
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  3. August 5, 2014 4:23 pm

    I appreciate viewing your selections – Thanks! Lynn Kenneth Pecknold

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