Michael J Strang is a truly passionate artist. Someone who finds immense beauty in the Cornish landscape and, having honed his impressive skills over nearly 50 years, has the genius to convey it on canvas.
An exhibition of his work has just opened at Falmouth Art Gallery. Entitled “Let paint be my metaphor – the glory of Cornish hedges’, the collection on display transforms a rural feature that most of us take for granted into something that takes on a compellingly spiritual dimension. The colours are vibrant and powerful and the textured layers sublime in the emotion they convey.
Stand in front of one of the paintings and see the play of light that draws the viewer in and suggests infinity. Michael, who is also a gifted poet, said: “I have always argued that it is the interpretation of a subject and not the subject itself that creates the work of art…Through the metaphor that is art, the hedge becomes paint and oscillates between its image and reality. Francis Bacon wrote, on seeing a Rembrandt study: ‘How do these dots and jabs of colour turn into an eye that the follows us around the room?’ Lord Clark, in his wonderful programme Civilisation, on looking at Constable’s six-foot sketch for the ‘Leaping Horse’, stated ‘by what alchemy does he (Constable) persuade us that these marks of paint are a divine landscape?’ Thus the phrase ‘the impossible mark’ was born.
“These thoughts, among many others, have always permeated my thinking and this exhibition has allowed me, by the medium of the Cornish hedge, to make them a tangible reality.”
Michael trained at Wimbledon and Camberwell Schools of Art from 1968 to 1973, among others studying under David Poole, former President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. A celebrated and energetic painter whose paintings are collected internationally, his eye-catching subjects include natural and man-made landscapes, seascapes, floral arrangements, flowering fields and hedgerows, still-life and portraiture.
In 1996 Michael was the first artist in nearly 100 years to have a number of his paintings exhibited alongside those of celebrated Victorian artist George Frederick Watts in the Watts Museum and Gallery at Compton, near Guildford. Two similar exhibitions followed in 2006 – the second at the Lewis Elton Gallery at Surrey University to show the relationship between a late great painter and a living one. He has also exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, prestigious London galleries in Bond Street and Cork Street and Tate St Ives and his work can be found in the public collections of the National Museum of Wales, Brecon Museum, St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, the Royal Cornwall Museum, Falmouth Art Gallery and Penlee House Art Gallery.
Falmouth Art Gallery Director, Henrietta Boex, said: “‘Stepping into the exhibition is like taking a walk on a beautiful spring day. Each of Michael’s paintings captures a hidden glimpse of the Cornish landscape and transports you into the countryside with their gem-like quality. We are delighted with the show’.
‘Let paint be my metaphor – the glory of Cornish hedges’ runs until 18 March 2017. Falmouth Art Gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. Entry is free.
Ends February 2017
Media enquiries: Sue Bradbury Tel: 01326 567184