Wednesday 10th September
Alan and I began our friendship under pressure. He was the artist I had been commissioned to write a book about. I was the journalist who was going to delve into his life and work. We had never met before but we needed to like each other. Somewhat paralysed by this, we eyed one another with suspicion.
It was when we were walking along the bank of the River Otter - fittingly, a scene of early inspiration - that the first barrier unexpectedly lifted. A chance exchange of ideas, the way something was expressed, revealed we had the same vision of the book I was to write. We had already established that we admired each other's work, but this came as a relief to us both. We were going to enjoy working together. It was going to be a good book.
Since then I've spent a lot of time with Alan and his family. I've become increasingly absorbed by his painting and been able to watch the way his work moves on. In this sense the latest exhibition is an exciting one. Alan is still lingering over Provence. He remains captivated by the reflections in Venice, although recently it is the fish market that sparks his imagination. But, in keeping with the character of a man who delights in exploring contrasts, he has turned to Ireland.
This fresh terrain suits Alan's palette perfectly. The intense, earthy colours that he likes to use mirror the mood of the landscape. Equally, his painting knife suggests the flat rock shapes and angular silhouettes of the cottages with case. And there is ample opportunity to experiment with themes he loves. In Donegal Bay Towards Dusk a dark, rocky foreground is set against the flattest, calmest waters and the palest, smoothest sky. In Connemara - Gathering Storm the illuminated foreground is juxtaposed with brooding, churned-up clouds. There is drama and beauty everywhere, and a thrilling tension in the new collection. Not to mention material for at least another chapter. If not a new book.
"Alan Cotton - New Paintings - 1997"
Published by David Messum Fine Art
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