Contemporary British artist Kieran Stiles (BA hons Falmouth)
"Poetry comes to us in various forms. Arguably Constable found it in his studies of clouds and in his large landscape sketches; Joan Eardly, that short-lived Scottish genius, in crashing waves upon the shore at Catterline; Claude Lorrain in glorious lyrical sunsets glowing with a golden light, and, of course Turner whose imagination soared when confronted by the drama of the natural world.
All of these artists had one thing in common, a heightened sense of visual poetry, and so does Kieran Stiles. The majority of his work, almost exclusively in oils, celebrates the Cornish coast and Scilly Isles with which he clearly has a deep affection. Of course, one might argue, because much of the subject
matter depicts land, sea and sky, they could be anywhere, but in a way they couldn't. This is the part of Britain, along with the coast of Provence and The Canaries, that has inspired him most and he has that rare ability to capture the soul of place.
Standing in front of one of Kieran’s paintings, one would
be hard pushed not to be moved by the sheer beauty, the poetry that resonates from its surface but if you think these paintings are haphazard impressions dashed onto canvas, you would be wrong. Kieran understands colour. In fact his understanding has been achieved by constant study and experiment.
The Old Masters gained their understanding of colour and its application by four years of study in a master's workshop, before they were even allowed to put brush to canvas. Each colour in a Stiles painting is balanced against another, it is these colour relationships that make the paintings sing and allows the eye to travel across the surface with ease. But if you are looking for detailed depictions of specific places then perhaps Kieran Stiles is not your man. If on the other hand his paintings move you in some emotional way, then he is. As the great Victorian landscape painter David Cox said of his late impressionist work, 'These are paintings of the mind.' This is also true in Kieran's case."
Brian Sinfield Gallery
Five minutes with the artist, Kieran Stiles
QUESTION: You are a very successful artist. You teach at the Ashmolean in Oxford and exhibit in the West End of London, and recently had a very successful exhibition at The Lemon Street Gallery in Truro. How has your work progressed in recent years?
ANSWER: I feel that my confidence and risk taking havenoticably increased over the last two years, and this has been integral
QUESTION: What do you aim at in your painting?
ANSWER: I try to use a vocabulary of different surfaces, forms and textures in order to create the illusion of space. Applying paint in an experimental way can sometimes provoke questions about how the visual world may be experienced. Each painting is like a puzzle. When I’ve solved the puzzle in my head, the painting is finished, even if some areas of the canvas are left exposed.
QUESTION: Which of your paintings are you most pleased with?
ANSWER: The paintings in which the use of abstraction makes it possible to move beyond the visual reality, closer to the ‘inner reality’, or the essence of a place.
QUESTION: Do you paint outdoors or in the studio?
ANSWER: I work outside mainly, I love nature, so go for a run first thing in the morning to explore places to work, and then, once settled down in a good spot, I make the paintings from combining many different references rather than one single view point. The work is a kind of abstracted mixture of visual things that I’ve noticed, all superimposed together. The paintings are then worked on and refined in the studio. The work in this exhibition is the result of a number of painting trips in the past six months in different countries and a variety of terrains.
Brian Sinfield with Kieran Stiles