Fridays Artist : Peter Collis, An Artist who Understands the Irish landscape
I started this week in my blog by saying that I was taking sometime each day to study some of my most loved Artists, I feel that the week has been really valuable to me in this respect and I am very pleased with how it has all worked out. At the same time the week has only scratched the surface of my full aims, being to gain an understanding of how so many great artists have used the landscape of Ireland and the UK in their art work and to define how I can take this as some personal inspiration.
While during the last few years I have taken many more photographs than produced paintings, I have been painting as a form of self-expression for many years. Oddly it was not until I decided to attend art school at Waterford(WIT) that I stopped painting so much, I think many experience this odd effect from current formal art study and art schools.
I don’t want my blog to become completely art and artists based and to move away from my own photography posts, although I personally feel that the two are very closely linked in any-case. So next week I will move a little back towards photographic images, I will however still keep posting some reviews of the artists and art work that I find the most interesting.
Has this week helped to inspired me ? , Absolutely! I feel its time to paint again as well as use my camera !!!
One of these very inspiring artists is Peter Collis the artist I have selected for my Friday Post. I remember visiting the Solomon Gallery, Dublin in 2002 , the first time I got to see any of peters paintings and I very much liked them from the start. I liked his style of painting of the landscapes he painted and very clearly loves, using a limited amount of colours like many artists do, I very much liked the way the movement of his brush can be so clearly viewed in his work, each gesture he made forms a feature in the landscapes he paints and each of these gestures are left alone on the canvas from the very moment they have been made.
I found this great review of Peter in the Irish independent dated 2012 – it says much more Than I can myself !!!
A little about Peter Collis by : Eamon Delaney
A lovely, gentle man’ was how veteran sculptor Imogen Stuart recalled the painter Peter Collis who has passed away at the age of 83. Collis, who was born in England and came to Ireland in 1969, was an acclaimed landscape artist and still life painter who had been a stalwart of the Royal Hibernian Academy. His canvasses are characterised by a powerful and dramatic style under the painterly influence of great masters such as Paul Cezanne, whom he adored, and Maurice de Vlaminck. In contrast to the traditional realistic depictions of the Irish countryside, Collis employed a bold brush and brought a strong expressive energy to his outdoor renderings.
He was particularly fond of Killiney, and its bay, and of the topsy turvy Wicklow countryside. The Sugar Loaf mountain became a familiar motif in his work. He also composed striking still lifes, of groups of green pears and vivid red apples, which evoked a distinctive European quality.
The physical appearance of Peter Collis often belied the rugged intensity of his work, with its rain-drenched hills and wind-bent trees. An unfailingly courteous man, who was widely popular, he wore Savile Row suits and was described by painter Mick O’Dea as possibly “the best dressed artist in the entire Irish arts scene”.
Born in London, he studied drawing and painting at the Epsom College of Art in London between 1949 and 1952. After college, he moved to Ireland where he had discovered a profound connect with the Irish landscape which would shape the course of his painting for the next four decades. Working for the Shell Oil company, Collis would paint in the early mornings from sketches and studies made on sales trips across the country, developing his craft and building a reputation as a painter of exquisite fluency. The critic Desmond McAvock wrote of him: “Like Cezanne he is really more interested in the structure of his scenes than in their transitory appearance . . . he can bind his observation into a cohesive, tightly controlled but always sensitive design.”
According to his longtime companion and fellow painter, John Coyle, Collis “saw things in the Irish countryside which the rest of us might never see”. Being something of an outsider, the Englishman was emboldened by bringing a fresh eye to it all. “He didn’t have the historical or territorial baggage that many Irish would have,” said Coyle, “and saw the landscape for what it was along with the physical, and poetic, possibilities it offered. He pursued the simplification and arrangement of shapes, just like Cezanne.”
In Dublin, Collis was most recently represented by the Solomon Gallery and only last month had a retrospective exhibition in the John Martin Gallery in London. In 1990, he was elected to full membership in the Royal Hibernian Academy and was actively involved in the activities of that body. In 2002 he was conferred a senior member of the Academy. He received many awards, including the Royal Trust Co. Lt. Award in 1975, the Maurice MacGonigal Landscape Prize of 1981 and the James Adam Salesroom Award, RHA of 1999. His paintings are represented in many public collections, including those of AIB, Bank of Ireland, Limerick University, University College Dublin, and the Office of Public Works. His paintings are also owned by many private collections including Bono, Christy Moore, and Lord Puttnam, the English film maker.
He will be missed by the artistic establishment, but also in the context of the wider artistic understanding of the Irish landscape, which he did so much to further. Most especially, of course, he will be missed by his wife Anne, and daughters, Vanessa, Mandy and Kate, as well as grandchildren. He was sadly predeceased by the untimely passing of two of his children, David and Gail. His funeral service was held in the Parish Church, Monkstown (Church of Ireland) followed by burial in Deansgrange cemetery.