Simon Fletcher's Watercolours by Sir John Tusa, July 2001

Simon Fletcher's Watercolours
Sir John Tusa, July 2001. Foreword to the book ‘The Way of the moving Brush’ Sponsored and published by Hitachi Corporation

 

It is more than ten years that my wife and I have lived with Simon Fletcher's watercolours. Living with involves looking at as well. Even after that time they more than stand the test of looking, of enquiry, of time itself. They have stood another important test for an owner as distinct from a gallery curator - can they work in several different locations, varying lights, surrounded by a wildly diverse assortment of companions?
Here too the verdict is affirmative.

Now, they could be good companions but they might still be only moderate painting. I think they are a good deal more than that. If I make comparison with other artists, it is not to suggest a derivative style but to evoke likenesses that the reader will know. For instance, some of his landscapes from a decade ago have the layered, outlined feel of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the colours revealing the bones of landscape and land in a precise way. This gives the painting a strength of order and structure that is quite unlike the conventional English watercolour.

Then there are the colours, strong, vivid, bold, yes, Turneresque in their readiness to go to the extremes of the palette. This tendency has grown with time and his stay on the continent and visits to Japan seem to have reinforced a confidence in his reaction to strong colours.

If he applies them with equal assurance in bold atmospheric washes as well as in very precise representations, notably in paintings that blend the specific with the atmospheric, this shows the range of approaches that Simon Fletcher has in his possession. Is it English, in the sense that we use the term, "English watercolour"? Hardly. Is it European? Not obviously. Is it personal and real? Without a doubt.

 

Sir John Tusa,
Managing Director,
Barbican Art Center, London.

 

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