ARTISTS SHARE MANY THINGS
Simon Burton, Brad Faine and Brendan Neiland on the surface seem to share very little. However scratch that surface and you may discover the story of what it is to be an artist.
Brad and Brendan met in the 1973 and started their creative relationship together, Brad as the Master Printer at Coriander Studio developed with Brendan a series of commissioned prints. Working in this way Brad has been able to journey with many of Britain’s leading artists. It is probably this aspect that emphasises one of the overlooked elements of what it is to be an artist. Namely that an artist shares; he is not merely a ‘lone rider’, but one who along the route develops close friendships, often spurred from a deep recognition of an endeavor that has haunted us since the caves of Lascaux.
Brendan is always quick to relate how important friendships develop, through shared experiences, shared values and also through challenging one another. This doesn’t conform to the archetype of the artist undertaking the journey entirely alone.
While planning this show, a conversation with Brendan revealed the scope of that journey. Brad and Brendan have continued to work together over four decades. This relationship has been cemented with frequent summer visits to France, including an amusing trip to Monet’s garden at Giverny to develop prints. The journey continues to this day. Simon joined the ‘road’ later, having been taught by Brendan at the University of Brighton in the 1990s. His shared journey has taken the three of them, in a literal sense, to places like the UAE and Poland.
Artists work, travel and show together, fostering friendship, understanding and empathy. It may be difficult to understand how important this is, but Brendan, Brad and Simon have said that seeing each other’s work and being able to develop an honest and deep familiarity with it, results in a situation where criticism can be direct and purposeful, because it can get to the core of what the other artist is about.
What do they share with the people who view their work?
Each one has a strong link to art history but there are more immediate ways into each of the artist’s works. Brendan creates poetry from observation, light, form and colour while consciously avoiding literary allusion to focus us on the present through visual sensation. Brad, whose work is essentially conceptual, reflects on aspects of the human condition utilising historical, popular and frequently political references. To quote Mel Gooding “This Art dazzles the eye and plays games with the mind”. Simon’s paintings are created out of the chaos of material substance, creating a haunting atmosphere, punctured with an unexpected remembered fragment from a dream.
For artists to be able to have conversations with viewers, it is important that there is a shared ‘language’. Each of these three recognises this and uses a form of it. While a language, based on the formal issues of painting exists, perhaps it only does so in the form of different dialects. This reminds us that language and painting are a form of living in and experiencing the world. Perhaps what artists do is ultimately is share those dialects with us.
As with all dialects we may understand some of it without necessarily understanding all of it. We are left with questions to ask and ideas to understand; thus artists are not engaged in a private adventure on a lonely road; they are inviting us to join them.