Brian Fletcher’s current show Membranes and Fasicas explores the textures and palimpsests of old walls and rusting metal surfaces found on derelict industrial sites…
I was born and lived my childhood and early youth in the Black Country and now live on the edge of the area.
This background has had a profound a influence on my painting. I have seen steel and iron industries decline and the buildings associated with them disappear.
Their huge structures were a constant presence in my environment. Built in a robust and functional style, they displayed details alluding to a formal Classical style with motifs drawn from Greek and Romanesque sources during the nineteenth and early twentieth century
As the great industries declined they were replaced by utilitarian, prefabricated brutalist, plain buildings; bland and repetitive. Although healthier to work in and more efficient and productive, there was sadness to see the earlier buildings destroyed.
For many years I painted panoramic views of these dying structures, fascinated by the rusting colours, decaying textures and robust structural qualities of their facades.
Often they were enhanced by highly decorative graffiti, making references to mysterious groups and individual artists.
Fortunately there are remnants of these buildings interspersed among recent developments. It is these odd reminders of a working past that now fascinate me – palimpsests of former lives: areas of brickwork revealed below decaying painted and whitewashed walls; pipes protruding mysteriously, issuing from nowhere, no longer delivering liquids to vanished supply exhaust systems; lengths of cable dangling on walls, carrying no power or signals.
The image shows three small paintings presented as a triptych. The shapes suggest bits of brickwork. By collage and heavy impasto oil paint, thickened by various grades of sand etc. I have explored a range of textures. Colour is subdued, concentrating the work on paint surfaces and texture.
Of particular interest are the functional messages and numerals having no valid reference to places or systems once important when they were painted or stencilled onto walls.
I find a rich source of inspiration in these relics.
‘Restrained colour, allowing the focus to be heavily textured and worn surfaces. I was intrigued by making reference to rusting girders and simple graffiti.’
Inspired once by large panoramas I have begun to scrutinise these survivals in greater detail. Increasingly less interested in recording them I have used them as starting points from which to develop work which has become more abstract.
The focus has become progressively less on the history and more on the colours and textures. Texture and colour have become the subjects of the paintings.
I have concentrated on creating exciting textures, but then reverted to a strong interest in colour. The restricted palette focuses the eye on the textures.
From highly textured surfaces and sonorous, subdued colour I have gradually developed more intensely colourful, completely abstract compositions but still rooted in the subject of industrial decay.
I am inspired by the words of Ivon Hitchens:
‘I look at nature and write my own song about it.’
Membranes and Fascias
If you’re a fan of urban-inspired art, visit soon to see Brian’s striking large-scale works with a focus on the abstract. The show runs until 23 March.