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‘The Hemming and Marr Show’
October 3, 2017 @ 11:00 am - October 14, 2017 @ 6:00 pm
The Hemming and Marr Show
3-14 October 2017
Adrian Hemming on Andrew Marr
I FIRST ENCOUNTERED Andrew (or rather I didn’t but used to observe him), rapt with attention, painting on Primrose Hill and I knew that the last thing an artist wants in those situations is a twat like me interrupting him to say: ‘Hi, you must be Andrew Marr’. A time and a place for everything. So, finally I did meet him and he kindly invited me to his studio. It was a revelation. I could see and sense that it was the start of a serious, momentous, lifetime journey. I don’t mean the physical journey he has had to endure but I mean the journey that all artists undertake if they are truly going to call themselves artists. Yes, it’s difficult, of course the journey is obscure, it’s about many, many, things. It’s about seeing inside one’s self and the world around us, it’s not just surface detail.
He works in oil paint on canvas and board. His subjects are abstract motifs and shapes, floating on highly coloured backgrounds. They gain their excitement and visual energy from the push and pull of object to colour, each fighting for balance and/or dominance. However, he doesn’t slavishly copy other artist’s; he wants to distil the imagery from his own sensibility and the world around him to create a truthful comment on himself.
He is pushing his own work so that the look and feel of the paint is a big part of the message. It has to be sensuous. It has to be alive. There is a sense that the painting process is almost like being in psychoanalysis, there are deep layers of unconsciousness that you constantly try to understand it’s both deeply satisfying and deeply disturbing at the same time.
Andrew Marr on Adrian Hemming
PAINTING IS, necessarily, a solitary occupation. Everything that matters most about it takes place silently, in the brain of the painter. In the studio, when the hard work is being done, the silence is absolute. And yet every painter needs to talk – needs help, needs criticism, needs a frank and knowing friendship. So, when I began to try to paint seriously, after I had suffered a stroke, Adrian Hemming’s friendship was both wonderful luck and a lifeline. He comes into the studio, raises a quizzical eyebrow, perhaps shakes his head about something that had pleased me, and quietly, gently, suggests other directions I might follow.
I always call Adrian, with a slight note of jealousy in my voice, ‘a proper painter’. Unlike me, he has gone through a full and rigorous training. He has devoted his entire life since teenage hood, to mastering pigment and surface, design and meaning. And, by God, it shows!
Although when we talk we mainly talk about the craft and physicality of painting – about pigments, bristles, different oils and glazes – Adrian Hemming is a philosophical painter, much concerned with myth, the environment and the nature of perception. Above all he is trying to answer the most difficult and important question painters’ face, which is simply: ‘what should fresh painting look like in 2017?’
When I am painting badly, I drive myself into a rage. But when I am painting well, I feel full of delight. A big part of that delight has come about thanks to the calm, wise friendship, and peaceable advice given to me by Adrian Hemming. A lesser man would have tried to encourage me to paint just is like him: Adrian has helped me to paint like me, only better – a much harder task. As you observe these pictures, I hope you see the story of an artistic friendship too.
Excerpts from the exhibition catalogue.