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Fred Cuming - Adam Gallery - W1

  • Fred Cuming is an absolute master of colour. I'd defy you to find any artist working today who can incorporate such a range and subrtly of colour into their paintings. I'd say his colours are more inventive than the impressionists and can rival Braque. Within this his paintings also have an atmosphere and sometimes a real sense of space. Take the painting below. At the front is a superbly painted row of trees, it's effortless and casual but the colour manages to also create the sense of the branches interweaving back and forth. But it's also possible to understand that these trees are far away from you - there's a sense that you are viewing them from a far off hill perhaps. Then even further behind that is the horizon - little lines of light. And above this huge vista rain is plunging down. The sense of space is stunning.



    David Hockney has recently brought to life the painting of the English landscape but Cuming has been doing this for years and to great effect. Take the painting of misty trees below. There's brillian paint handling and sensitivity to get those trees to float into existence out of a few fluttering lines of paint. And while Hockney may have a stunning way of depicting the landcscape I think you can argue that Cuming could have a better abilty to communicate its colours. Hockney's colours are always bold while Cuming manages to hold a British earthy sensibility for light. It reminds me of the colours you'd find in a William Coldstream painting that are bursting with a sort of British romanticism for rainy days. Colours that celebrates the multitude of greys and infinite subtleties of colour you get in Britain.



    Cuming has also spent years painting the coatsline producing some remarkable paintings. Sometimes like the painting below they are stunning paintings holding a soft sunset moment - and then in others, like the painting further below, they begin to creep towards being completely abstract, but with just a few exceptionally subtle hints to keep the reality - like the white of the t-shirt of the fugure on the beach. You've got to praise this skill for achievinbg an effect with such a delicate touch.







    There was a painting in this show which I found really interesting - unfortunately the photo I took is not great - but in it you can see that Cuming was around in the time of pop art. It's a fascintaing painting as not only have you got that British sense of misty colours but you've also got the words "Ice Cream" thrown in as text in a proper pop art fashion. A stunning and extraordinary combination of two styles.


    While Cuming has a brilliant abilirty for colour he also produces a wide and imaginative variety of paingtings that shift from recreating atmospheres to creating spaces and mixing genres. There's more to these paintings than meets the eye.




    Fred Cuming - Adam Gallery, 24 Cork Street until 24 May. The show then moves to Adam Gallery's Bath gallery, 13 John Street from 1 June to 20 June.


    Review by Robert Dunt, artist and Founder of