Born in Newark Nottinghamshire Stuart Reid studied at Grimsby school of Art, Falmouth School of Art (now part of Falmouth University) and Birmingham Schools of Art and Design (now BIAD University of Central England). Stuart Reid lives in East London and works in a Space Studio. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. The Artists paintings are held in private, corporate, and public collections worldwide.
My practice explores areas between figuration and abstraction were the natural world serves as my muse and the elements of colour, shape and space become my medium of expression. My creative journey is an intimate dialogue with the ever changing light that imbues the landscape throughout the seasons, leaving a profound impact on my work in particular, the enchanting locales of Dorset holds a special place in my heart, constantly inspiring my artistic vision.
To capture the fleeting moments of shifting light and its intricate dance on the scenery, I make drawings in sketchbooks and work on paper in watercolour and gouache. I take photographs to record the moment which maybe later use in the studio. However, my artistic process goes beyond simply reproducing what I see through the lens. I view the camera as a means to document, allowing me to delve into the essence of the moment. It is from these captured snapshots, drawings and watercolours that my paintings emerge.
Responding to the play of light, beckoning the viewer to step into the canvas and share in the experience, as exemplified in paintings such as “Pathway to Mapperton” and “Burcombe”. For me, paint is not merely a medium; it transcends the boundaries of pigment and canvas to become an expression of my inner vision. The physical act of applying paint and marking is a crucial part of my artistic practice, as it embodies the process of translating my emotions and perceptions into the surface. I use an in array of brushes and methods and often apply paint with my hands to infuse my art with an intimate touch. As the initial marks manifest on the canvas, a metamorphosis begins, and my paintings take on a life of their own, oscillating between the figurative and the abstract realms, a poetic dance of figure and nature.
Through my Art seeks to evoke an emotional connection with the audience, initiating them to embark on their own sensory journey, delving beyond the tangible into the realm of feelings and imagination. My work is an invitation to contemplate the interplay between the tangible the intangible aspects of existence, where the boundaries of reality blur, and the soul finds solace in the beauty of the natural world. Ultimately, my artistic pursuit is an ongoing exploration of the possibility of paint and art as a conduit for a vision that transcends the mere portrayal of objects or scenes. It is an ever-evolving exploration, a dance of colors and forms, inviting the beholder to join me in celebrating the intangible wonders that lie beneath the surface of our visual perceptions.
Painting as a discipline today comprises a host of activities - some attempting its continuation through the artificial respiration of irony and distance, others attempting an extended basis for the practice of taking in installation or an interaction with other media. Meanwhile the prospect remains, though less in the spotlight or noisily self-declaratory, of an engagement with various aspects of painting’s own inherent possibilities and concerns. British artist Stuart Reid’s painting might be seen to lay bear what many would see as the essence of painting: - colour placed on a surface stretched across the frame, as the French painter Morris Dennis suggested. Of course the story never ends there, and with Reid it’s at the service of the construction of pictorial space that these essential means are mobilised. His approach is simply to articulate the surface as a key to evoking sensations that are connected with how we, the viewers, see the world - in particular how we see nature. Paint becomes material capable of being both optical and haptic or tactile metonymy for the fabric of looking or gazing, and the weaving of an image or in space and time.
Reid’s paintings earlier in the 1980s evoke a very different kind of spatiality; that of the human corporeality – the body in space. A series of heads painted at this time had some connection with Willem De Kooning or the British expressionist John Walker - as much concerned with space as an existential construction formal one. From the late 1980s onwards landscape format has predominated, and any corporal or external positioning of human presence has been transposed to an external space - the space of the artist and the viewer outside of the frame. Each painting suggests its own methods of working - Reid once suggested to me that technique as such was to be discovered by the individual painting in a process of ambulando, as it were. This clearly opens the way for divergent models of spatiality to be experienced.
Within the larger paintings Wychwood (1990) possesses the space of a dense enclosure, of proximity, a dark but rich vibrating space. By contrast Everglades (1998) evokes the fluid and unbroken traversal of water and foliage, where the distance and proximity are dissolved into an aqueous articulation of surface. Cherwell (2003), on yet another level, evokes this structure of surface in a very different way whereby transparency gives over to a frontal opacity – demonstrated by the thickly applied greens (that most material of colours if we remember Kandinsky’s remarks) which creates a barrier-like density of colour in vertical bands. This notion of a deep connection between the materiality of things within nature and the sense of colour is one that dominates most of the paintings. As I have inferred this is not simply a matter for the eye alone - Reid is a painter ensconced in the physical nature of touch the - haptic. They are literally hands on paintings in that he uses his hands directly to apply the pain. This enables Reid to literally physically negotiate the space as he is working - feeling his way into a painterly terrain. If we look at the works on paper we see this process has its most abstract in a series of black and white acrylic works simply in titled Fields (2001) we see the various methods of veiling, wiping, of thin filigrees of marks evidently bearing the traces of the artist’s hand, and broad sweeping gestures sometimes knitting horizontal and vertical gestures as contrasting pulls of energy. The smaller works and undoubtedly suggest the possibility of pure experiment in terms of calligraphic mark - making and the construction of the field. These investigations find their way into larger works such as Isis (2003) or Vertical Light (2001) taking on a greater physicality with oil pigment and colouration.
Whilst Reid’s concerns could very well be traced back to the influence of the great Abstract Expressionist traditions of Newman and Still (those most clearly associated with the Sublime and the expenses of nature) - accessible representational overtones remain important to Reid and to be refined rather than denied. There is no dogma as to how a surface might behave, or what is there to do in terms of space. Reid on the contrary evokes different types of delineation and concurrently different aspects of transit around the space of each painting from one to the next. Overall, it is a sense of space that, “One can imagine one can step into” – the artist has said, an illusory sensation of depth: physically present yet ultimately unreal. We might be reminded of Newman who wanted the painting to be in be imbued by the artist sense of place communicated as if by transference. I believe Reid requests something of this nature in the relation of the painting, the behaviour of the artist (transferred to touch, trace and mark) and the viewer. Henry Bergson believed that painting mediated reality through being both real and illusionary simultaneously, and that a painting is as much produced in the mind as it is in the realm of the real. Such a thought might find empathy in the relation to these paintings, which evoke, and are tied to, particular places and yet are displaced into the realm of illusion by the artists reflective vision.
David Ryan 2004
David Ryan is an artist, musician and writer. He is author of Talking Painting: Dialogues with Twelve Contemporary Abstract Painters
2004 Great Neck Arts Centre New York Reflective Visions
1998 The Chelsea Arts Club
1986 Vortex Gallery Stoke Newington London
1981 Hull College of Art
1979 Holt Gallery Birmingham
2023/22 Chelsea Arts Club Summer Exhibition
2021/20 The Gibberd Gallery Open Harlow
2020 Days Like These Town Mill Galleries Lyme Regis
2020 The Old Lock Up Gallery Open iso online
2020 The Gibberd Gallery Open Harlow
2019 A Riotous Assembly Curated by David Manley Deda Derby
2018 Summer Exhibition Chelsea Arts Club
2000 Dash Gallery London Chisenhale Artists
2000 Arts Place Trust 20th Anniversary Exhibition Chisenhale Gallery
2000 Millennium Exhibition The Chelsea Arts Club
1999 Maymie White Gallery
1999 The Affordable Art Fair Battersea London Maymie White Gallery
1998 Chichester Open Arts Exhibition
1997 Le Capitiole, La Defence. Paris
1996 Artists in Essex Epping Forest District Museum
1995 Charles Barker PLC London
1994 Fluxbritanica Tate Britain London
1993 The London Group 80th Anniversary Exhibition Concourse Gallery Barbican Centre London.
1991 Leicester Exhibition for Schools and Colleges
1990 The Gill Gallery ‘Opening the Doors’ Newham London
1990 Galeria International De Arte Portugal
1988 Art works Space Gallery with David Ryan, Barbican London
1985 WhiteChapel Open selected by Bert Irvin
1981 Ikon Gallery Birmingham On View
1974 Camden Arts Centre London
1973 ICA London
1972 Penwith Gallery St Ives Cornwall
1972 Fluxshoe Performance Falmouth Arts Centre
2001 Milton Keynes University Hospital Trust (Gift from Mercedes-Benz)
England, America, Portugal
Church House Conference Centre Westminster
Arthur J Gallagher & Co Phoenix Arizona USA
Benfield Grieg Holdings London
Public Policy Unit London
Mayer Brown and Platt London
Colonia Boltica Insurance London
Eagle Star Ltd
Charles Barker plc London
LIMIT London Insurance Market Investment Trust plc London
Island Shangri-La Hotel Hong Kong
2004 The New York State Council for the Arts
2004 Unilever plc
2004 The Central Schools of London Trust
1979/82 Fine Arts Bursary West Midlands Arts
2004 David Ryan, catalogue GNAC New York
1985 Mary Rose Beaumont Arts Review
1983 Janet Ryland Artists Newsletter
1979 Prof David Manley, catalogue Holt Gallery Birmingham
1999 Gavin Kelly Benfield Greig Holdings London
1998 Le Meridian Grand Pacific Hotel Tokyo Japan
1993 Hyatt Regency Hotel Guam USA