"I am fascinated by the capacity of art to bring to light something in ourselves of which we were previously unaware. My recent work looks at how this can happen, or not happen, when people and artworks come face to face. I have called the series "Art and not-art". In these pictures we see, or sense, how people react to works of art, and how the museum or gallery environment can shape their response.
At one level the paintings deal with our ambivalent relationship with the past, and how we connect to or feel alienated by our cultural heritage. The juxtaposition of exhibits and gallery visitors brings together the different worlds of past and present, and potentially a clash of values can take place. Sometimes a tension is apparent between the ideals embodied in the art and architecture of the gallery, and the less exalted reality of the ordinary people juxtaposed against them. It can sometimes seem that the perfection these ideals embody represents an implicit criticism of the imperfections of the onlookers. The contrast can make the latter look banal or dull- or the ideal seem overblown, exclusive, or coldly authoritarian. In some instances the beauty of real life seems more compelling than that of art; yet in others a genuine, personal drama can seem to resonate profoundly with its artistic counterpart.
My compositions often create a deliberately restricted view of the figures, exhibits and settings, making them ambiguous or even unidentifiable. The effect is to leave enigmatic clues or hints as to who and where the figures are, and what they are looking at (or not looking at, as the case may be) - like the fragmentary elements of a dream.
Sometimes the artwork depicted can appear to be a projection of the figure's imagination - perhaps suggesting a childhood memory, or some unresolved relationship; or perhaps symbolising some inner fear or longing that has up to now remained unvoiced. In this case, the painting can seem to become a representation of an individual's inner world, made visible through the artwork that they peruse. This sense of an objective image becoming a glimpse of a more personal, imaginary realm can be enhanced through the use of light and colour; this is something that I sense intuitively and then try to develop as a painting progresses.
I plan my pictures quite carefully; however, once a painting is underway, there is often a sense that it takes on a life of its own, prompting me to move beyond my original conception into new and unexpected territory. I will often stand back and try to sense the mood suggested by a half-formed image; as I follow these hints, this mood gains in intensity, and as it progresses the work becomes invested with unforeseen emotional drama and a more personal significance.
A picture can thus come to express something within myself that I did not intend when I began it. For me, it is this process of discovering the elusive that makes painting challenging and exciting." Richard Whincop
Born in 1964 at Fordingbridge in Hampshire, I graduated in English and Art History at the University of York in 1986, where I studied and practised the techniques of the old masters as well as doing life drawing and a wide range of experimental work. In my final year I exhibited drawings in Alcuin College, which resulted in the college commissioning a set of six pieces for their collection. I went on to set up as a free-lance artist in Preston, Lancashire, and moved to Glasgow in 1988 following an exhibition at Worden Park Arts Centre in Leyland.
I continued to paint and exhibit during the 1990’s, and in 1996 I set up the Treehaus art & design partnership with my then wife Fiona Paton, a designer and abstract painter, and until 2004 produced a wide range of commissioned paintings, sculptures and design work for restaurants, bars, clubs and domestic premises throughout Scotland. These included large figurative murals for Corinthian (Ingram Street, Glasgow), paintings and sculptures for the Art Deco restaurant Rogano (Exchange Place, Glasgow) and 6 mural scenes of Glasgow shipyards for John Brown’s Bar Bistro (Clydebank).
In 1999 I collaborated with Graham Woan of Glasgow University on the innovative G2V sundial design, which won a GDE award, and was exhibited at Glasgow’s Lighthouse Design Centre as part of the Glasgow Collection, subsequently touring internationally. In the same year my designs for Irvine’s “Big Idea” Bridge of Invention Competition were short-listed.
Following a bout of M.E. in 2003, and separation from my wife the following year, I developed a substantial series of paintings called “Art and not-art”, focusing on the relationships between visitors and traditional artworks in art museums. Since January 2005 works from this series have been regularly shown at Art Exposure Gallery, Glasgow, and from June 2005 at the Oisín Gallery, Dublin, where I had my debut solo show in April 2006. They were also exhibited at the Glasgow Art Fair in April 2005 and 2007, and the Edinburgh Art Fair in November 2006. My entry for the Aspect Art prize was featured in the exhibition at the Paisley Art Institute in June 2006.