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Victoria Art Gallery, Bath
1 August - 4 October 2009
Reviewed by: Susie Cochrane »
The size of this exhibition was immediately significant – two rooms packed with 68 works in total. This large body of mixed media pieces has finally been completed by Jackson after almost 5 years in the making, and makes quite an impact within the walls of the Victoria Gallery, especially given it is a free exhibition.
Kurt Jackson uses mixed media with varying success. Although taking the format of paintings, incorporated media includes found objects, decoupage, pencil, watercolour and more. Working with newspaper is personally where I found the artist really coming to life, with ripped and cut segments juxtaposing weather reports with his vibrant botanical paintings. Where found objects were concerned however, one large piece in particular gave way to a superfluous sticking-on of brightly coloured miscellanea which was less than effective. There is text worked into much of the paintings, which was a little surprising at first as it has largely been played down in publicity. Where scrawled and partially obscured, the pencilled words add a physical, human touch that brings you into the moment. That said, Jackson also applied large, childlike phrases in some places which actually began to take away from the skilled paint-work of the artist. Starting and finishing the exhibition are his smaller works, with the main room also housing some larger pieces. Unfortunately the latter let down his elsewhere unfaltering obvious talent for great composition, instead seeming a little unexciting. The numerous different riverside views with banks, reeds, clouds and meanders did get slightly repetitive, but in their own right Jackson's countryside scenes work well to evoke the wilderness & beauty of the River Avon.
Colour was a focal point for me in this exhibition, with some undeniably superb use of materials, creating vivid sun-blushed or shower-dampened insights. My eye was particularly caught by a yellowed-salmon sky radiating from a far corner, as well as by the gleaming fields and spectacular skyscape of No.16, lighting up the exhibition's first section. When he gets it just right Jackson captures all that I love about Somerset & Wiltshire, from the secluded grassy knolls that you feel no-one else could have possibly encountered in quite the same light, to the sodden banks overlooking a cluster of silent fisherman. His personal encounters are what really make this a good collection, as you begin to feel the seep of his nostalgia in returning to places he remembers from childhood holiday ramblings.
Admittedly the idea for this exhibition is fairly un-extraordinary. Making the journey along the River Avon from Bath to Avonmouth and documenting the river and its surroundings through his artwork as he goes, Jackson is indulging an individual inspiration. Even verging on cheesy are his words up on the gallery wall, comparing the journey of the river to life itself. But ultimately this concept turns out to be no bad thing – not only is there an almighty body of work at the end of an impressive 5 year effort, but this is enjoyable to view and a well put-together exhibition.
Fine Art student of Nottingham Trent University
Victoria Art Gallery »
The Victoria Art Gallery Bridge Street Bath BA2 4AT
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