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WŁADYSŁAW MIRECKI

“…stand stable, here / And silent be…”
Watercolours

Saturday 3rd March to Sunday 1st April, 2018

Exhibition Open Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm or by arrangement

Where enquiries of prices are made on the gallery, the work is subject to availability and the price to change.

Holme Valley, Yorkshire 2011

Bull and cow, Watercolour 2017, 56x60 £2,690


Alders
Watercolour 2015
45 x 30
£1,080

Barn door VII
Watercolour 2015
30 x 20
£480


Barn door VIII
Watercolour 2015
30 x 20
£480

Barn door IX
Watercolour 2015
30 x 20
£480

Barn door X
Watercolour 2015
30 x 20
£480

Barn door XI
Watercolour 2016
30 x 20
£480


Barn door XII
Watercolour 2016
30 x 20
£480

Barn door XIII
Watercolour 2016
30 x 20
£480


Barn door XIV
Watercolour 2016
30 x 20
£480


Barn door XV
Watercolour 2017
30 x 20
£480

Barn door XVI
Watercolour 2017
30 x 20
£480


Barn door XVII
Watercolour 2017
30 x 20
£480

Barn door XVIII
Watercolour 2017
30 x 20
£480

Beach huts and steps
Watercolour 2014
35x 70
£1,960

Birch tree in winter
Watercolour 2017
150 x 24
£2,880


Bull and cow
Watercolour 2017
56 x 60
£2,690

Cathedral spire, Salisbury
Watercolour 2014
75 x 50
£3,000

Cement works, Greenwich
Watercolour 2014-17
104 x 104
£8,650


Dawn at Luxor
Watercolour 2010-11
40 x 104
£3,330


Ditch and Trees
Watercolour 2017
45 x 76 cms
£2,735

Empty beach, North Norfolk
watercolour 2017
42 x 72
£2,425

Field margin
Watercolour 2017
60 x 89
£4,275

Greenwich Power Station

Watercolour 2017
100 x 50
£4,000

Harbour entrance
Watercolour 2014
40 x 60
£1,920

John Deere tractor
Watercolour 2016
60 x 89
£4,275

Near Snape
Watercolour 2017
19.5 x 36
£560

Oak in winter
Watercolour 2016
122 x 122
£12,000

Rocks and groynes
Watercolour 2014
35 x 52.5
£1,470


Rue Boileau, Peret Watercolour 2017
75 x 60
£3,600

Rue Courteline, Peret Watercolour 2017
74 x 49
£2,900

Salisbury cathedral, West Facade, Salisbury
Watercolour 2017
122 x 92
£8,980

Sea defences
Watercolour 2014
40 x 100
£3,200

Thornfield wood crossing I
Watercolour 2017
46 x 30
£1,100

Thornfield wood crossing II
Watercolour 2017
41 x 40
£1,300


Traffic cones
Watercolour 2015
30 x 30
£720

Trees in winter
Watercolour 2015
30x30
£720

Under Clacton Pier
Watercolour 2017
75 x 50
£3,000

Viaduct with tank traps
watercolour 2014
130 x 130
£15,000

View from Clacton Pier
Watercolour 2014
60 x 90
£4,320


View from Orford Castle
Watercolour 2014
40 x 100
£3,200

West cliff Whitby II
Watercolour 2014
35 x 52.5
£1,470

Willows, river and viaduct in winter, Chappel
Watercolour 2017
56 x 37
£2,075

Bacon’s farm barn
Watercolour 2013
75 x 75
Nfs
(private collection)

Bacon’s farm barn II
Watercolour 2013
96 x 64
Nfs
(private collection)

Barn door I
Watercolour 2012
30 x 20
Nfs
(private collection)

Barn door II
Watercolour 2012
30 x 20
Nfs
(private collection)

Barn door III
Watercolour 2012
30 x 20
Nfs
(private collection)

Barn door IV
Watercolour 2012
30 x 20
Nfs
(private collection)

Barn door V
Watercolour 2012
30 x 20
Nfs
(private collection)


Barn door VI
Watercolour 2012
30 x 20
Nfs
(private collection)


Before conversion
Watercolour 2011
81 x 81
Nfs
(private collection)
     

Once when writing a short passage for inclusion in a book on The Arborealists, in which examples of his own work appeared, Władysław Mirecki revealed his preference for bare trees. This is unusual. The glory of a tree, to most eyes, lies in its spring, summer or autumn foliage. Not in the stark exposure of its trunk, branches and twigs thrown up against a wintry grey sky. But it is in winter that, as Mirecki observes, trees reveal themselves, while also letting more of their surroundings come into view. He explains: ‘The context in which they lie is also of importance to me; the space around them, the leaf mould at their base. They do not exist in isolation, other trees live with them and creatures live upon them, and, while I’m making the picture, I too become almost tree-like myself; still and silent.’ 1 As it happened a sudden severe illness interrupted Mirecki’s work on one of his large watercolours, Oak in Winter (2016), in which a single, bare tree, with its combination of strength and delicacy, reaches out and almost fills the full height and breadth of the paper. After the artist returned to work, it took months to complete, the tree’s own becoming echoing its maker’s return to health.

Mirecki is a landscape artist in a post-industrial age. He is attracted by settings where the man-made, be it a culvert or a disused railway line, and the natural come together. This is best seen in Viaduct with Tank Traps (2014), where the receding viaduct is offset by a nondescript corner in which nature again tangles with the man-made, and the foreground iron railings have become broken with age or from misuse. It’s a complicated view, perhaps deliberately so, for it obliges the viewer to look hard and, in so doing, become ensnared in the composition. Yet the overall tonality is muted; even the disappearing viaduct, with its dramatic perspective, does not break the quietly subdued mood. Here and elsewhere, Mirecki’s work seems to offer a brooding threnody on the forgotten and overlooked. This can also be felt in front of Cement Works, Greenwich (2014 – 17), where the industrial setting is confronted head on. Few watercolours are as powerful as this. In different hands and at an earlier date, such a scene could have figured as a celebration of the significance of concrete to the making of the modern world. But in today’s climate such blinkered optimism would seem out of place. As it is, the heavy blue sky feels slightly oppressive. It prepares us for the spiked security fence, running across the foreground, its upright bars interrupted by a hose pipe or two which have become arbitrarily woven into its rigidity.

Given the scale and gravity of Mirecki’s paintings, it is astonishing to discover that his choice of medium is exclusively watercolour. When dealing with the elaborate vegetation discovered by the brook at the end of his garden, he can arrive at a degree of finish that almost gives this work the appearance of an oil painting. Nevertheless the lightness and transparency of watercolour is essential to the sensations generated by his art. For even when there is no obvious post-industrial motif in Mirecki’s art, there is often an eloquent mournfulness in his approach to landscape and, perhaps too, an underlying sense of loss. This vein of feeling positions him within a significant tradition. Ever since Albrecht Dürer created his famous print Melencholia, his winged figure, grounded by desolation, head resting on hand and eyes bright within a darkened face while all around is a litter of unused objects associated with science and art, many have been inspired by the notion, first found in neo-platonic writings, that melancholy is related to creativity. And that far from being a nostalgic or weak position, the melancholy view of life has integrity, and is often based on contemplative thought that is searching and realistic.

Mirecki has travelled far in his art, to reach the position he now occupies. It is indeed a timely moment in which to celebrate his achievement with this book and exhibition. Biographical facts about him are now readily available, but a few relevant details need repeating here. One is the fact that he was born in Chelmsford of Polish parentage, and, although he has painted in many other places, it is the Essex landscape, in which he still lives, that is at the heart of his oeuvre. Another fact is that he has always drawn or painted. His talent was recognised early on, during his schooldays.

Favoured by two art teachers, he was encouraged to send work to children’s exhibitions mounted by the Royal Drawing Society and given full rein with regard to whatever materials he needed. This early encouragement may have brought out the contrarian in him as he finally opted not to go to art school but to study science at Kingston Polytechnic. Later, while continuing to paint and draw, he went through a variety of jobs, working as an industrial designer for Marconi’s, and also at one point pursuing his passion for railways by working in a railway museum. In 1986 he moved to the Chappel Galleries, in Chappel, Essex, first as a lodger, resident artist and handyman and then becoming co-proprietor and husband of Edna Battye, who had originated the business. Mirecki himself first began exhibiting in 1988 but much of his time for the next few years was spent helping others to exhibit.

A lack of confidence in what he was doing may also have held him back, for he was self-conscious about the fact that he had no training in art. Art schools vary and have a mixed reputation, but it is almost impossible to leave any art school without gaining some contextual and historical understanding of abstraction. Lacking this, Mirecki felt for some years uncertain as to what was and was not important in art; he had floundered, thinking himself not artistic enough to commit to art as a career or a vocation. After joining the Chappel Galleries, he still could not understand why many of the exhibiting artists seemed to him to hamper the expression in their art by ‘unnecessary splashes or dribbly twiggles’. To this day he tends to look with a critical eye at any too obviously arty effects, in paint or words. But his understanding of the visual language gained greater maturity through his conversations with one of the Chappel Galleries’ artists, Roderick Barrett, who taught at the Royal Academy Schools and had been elected President of the Colchester Artists’ Society, a post previously filled by John Nash and, before him, Cedric Morris. Barrett was too good a teacher to impose his own views on others but he drew to the fore Mirecki’s awareness of the complex ingredients in art, such as the need for balance, and honed his awareness of when a painting needed to be cleared of a wrong idea to make way for right things. Mirecki’s love of the intricate detail that realism permits still makes him suspicious of stylistic traits that give more importance to personal expression than to observation of the external world. His resolute stance means that, although he is accurately described as an East Anglia painter, he remains untouched by any influence from leading East Anglian artists. He remains the elephant in the room, for still today his name is absent in books about East Anglian art.

A significant breakthrough came with an invitation to have a solo exhibition in Nanjing, in the Jingsu Provincial Art Museum, in 1999. Complications surrounding this exhibition meant that it took the form of a cultural exchange rather than a commercial enterprise. It also marked a significant moment in Mirecki’s career in that it obliged him to stand back, reassess his work and ascertain the direction in which he now wished to go. In China he had seen many beautiful and exquisite things. Such finesse left him dissatisfied with some of his earlier plein-air paintings which had been mostly produced on the spot. These now seemed to him too rushed, and so began his preference for working more in his studio than outdoors. Since the late 1980s he had exhibited regularly, but after his exhibition in China, he aimed higher in his choice of outlets for his work, thereby gaining a presence in leading exhibition societies, among them the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and the Royal Society of British Artists. Not only had he finally realised that he needed to take himself and his work seriously, but it would appear that his own artistic vision became more definite.

Mirecki, himself, makes no grand claims for his masterly pictures. ‘I paint what interests me,’ he says. His aim is not to promote a message, nor to dictate any specific emotional response through his art, but primarily to show us what he has seen. He has a gift not only for immediate detail but also for distant views and broad panoramas. His seascapes are, by any standards, outstanding examples of this genre. And if we look, say, at his View from Orford Castle (2014) or View from Clacton Pier (2014) we find a remarkable openness to his subjects. Mirecki’s concentrated attention makes it seem as if he has directly lifted the scenes in front of him and impressed them into paper by means of watercolours.

Only close attention to the actual works reveals the thinking mind that has been judging what to leave in and what to take out. ‘Small things matter to me,’ Mirecki admits, and in View from Clacton Pier this is evident in the attention given to the touches of rust on the metal poles supporting the chains along the edge of the pier. In these pictures Mirecki fulfils W.H. Auden’s command – ‘Stand stable, here/And silent be’ – which, in the troubled year of 1936, formed part of his now famous poem ‘Look, stranger at this island now’.

One curious feature about these land and seascapes is a sense of otherworldliness, which seems to arise from the quality of their light. Often Mirecki’s preferred light is the steady, unchanging light that comes through a north-facing window on an overcast day. Many of his paintings, and especially his seascapes, seem to belong to no particular time of day but are outside of time. This is partly because these large watercolours are labours of love and take a long time to paint. They do not, therefore, invite an impressionist concern with fast-changing light effects. Mirecki’s light does change from one picture to the next, according to the scene, climate and time of day, but it has an unnatural fixity, the benefit of which is that contributes to the stillness and duration that his work emits. He has found many subjects in and around Chappel, where he lives, and in the Colne Valley. His subject may be only a bend in an empty road, with flat fields on both sides and a few bare trees in the middle distance. But I would not be surprised if in a hundred years’ time or less, folk will come looking for the precise spot at which pictures like Lane Road, Wakes Colne (2008 – inset), have been painted.

Several paintings in this current exhibition celebrate Mirecki’s pleasure in the texture, structure and open space found in a nearby barn. These pictures began with a commission from a local farmer. But Mirecki became so involved with this old building that he not only recorded different views of the interior, before and after reconstruction, but he decided to paint its nine doors, each one viewed twice, from the inside looking out, and then from the outside, looking in. What is it about this old barn, set off in two of these pictures by a spankingly new tractor, that appealed to the artist? Possibly a respect for the craftsmanship so openly portrayed in its structure? Also, perhaps, an affection for the character of decay and for the ever-changing vistas offered by those doors. But behind such remorseless activity also lies a rare dedication to the everyday world and to the environment. Standing in front of one of Mirecki’s paintings is like standing in front of those open doors in the barn, at the threshold of something not noticed or seen before which invites us to embark on a journey of looking. Mirecki is exceptional in his utter dedication to the task of painting, but there is also humour, too, in his work, as seen in the sudden glimpse of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral between the rooftops of two mundane modern red-brick houses, or in his sudden observance of bright red and white traffic cones sitting quietly down the side of a country lane. In this last painting the melancholy vein in his work disappears. It returns in those subjects we may have seen a hundred times before, yet never with the unexpected poetry that is this artist’s particular and subtle gift.

Frances Spalding

Frances Spalding is an art historian, biographer and critic. Her reviews, articles and books have done much to broaden appreciation of modern British art. She taught for some fifteen years at Newcastle University, becoming Professor of Art History, and is now Emeritus Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2005 received a CBE.

WŁADYSŁAW MIRECKI

1956 Born Chelmsford, Essex of Polish parentage.
He is self-taught, having painted all his life including his periods gaining his science degree, as an industrial designer and co-proprietor of Chappel Galleries (1986 - ).

 
 
EXHIBITED
 
 
1988
New English Art Club, Mall Galleries, London
1989
Epping Forest District Museum “Artists in Essex”
1989
Beecroft Art Gallery, Westcliffe on Sea, Essex 31st Open Exhibition
1990
Chappel Galleries, Essex Solo Exhibition
1991
Foyles Art Gallery, London
1992
Department of Transport art Competition, Mall Galleries, London
Deuxieme Salon Biennale de L’Aquarelle, Hirson, France (Chelmsford 1993)
Essex County Council, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Essex Commission
1996
Chappel Galleries, Essex10th Anniverary Exhibition: Solo Exhibition
1997
Singer and Friedlander, Sunday Times Exhibition, London
Beecroft Art Gallery, Essex: Open Exhibition
1999 Jiangsu Provincial Art Gallery, Nanjing, China: Solo Exhibition
Chappel Galleries, Essex Solo Exhibition
2002 Chappel Galleries, Essex Blyth Spirit “Walberswick Artists: 1880–2000”
2003
Chappel Galleries, Essex Solo Exhibition
WH Pattersons, London Christmas Mixed Exhibition
2004
Royal Academy, London Summer Exhibition
WH Pattersons, London Christmas Mixed Exhibition
2006
Chappel Galleries, Essex Solo Exhibition
2007
Royal Watercolour Society Open Competition, Bankside Gallery, London.
Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, Mall Galleries, London.
Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition Mall Galleries, London: Winner of the Edward Wesson Award.
Beecroft Art Gallery, Westcliffe on Sea, Essex 49th Essex Open Exhibition: Awarded Prize and Shirley Robson Bowl for the best watercolour.
Chappel Galleries, Essex ‘Southwold, the East Coast’.
Sunday Times/Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, London: 3rd Prize Winner, The Mall Galleries, London.
Lynn Painter-Stainers, London.
Chichester Open Art Exhibition, Chichester.
Royal West of England Academy 155th Autumn Exhibition, Bristol.
New English Art Club, The Mall Galleries, London.
2008
RWS/Sunday Times watercolour competition, Bankside Gallery, London
Lynn Painters-Stainers, London (third prize winner)
2009
Chappel Galleries, Essex Solo Exhibition
Lynn Painter-Stainers, London
2010
Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 198 Annual Exhibition, London
Eastern Open, King’s Lynn Arts Centre
Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 23rd Year (2nd Prize Winner), Mall Galleries, London
Duncan Campbell Fine Art, London: Solo Exhibition
2011
Work on loan for opening of new branch of Handelsbanken, Colchester
Sunday Times Watercolour Competition in association with Smith and Williamson: The Mall Galleries, London  
Discerning Eye Exhibition: The Mall Galleries, London 10-20 November
2012
Piers Feetham Gallery, London: Solo Exhibition
Lynn Painter Stainers Exhibition, London
Chappel Galleries, Essex: Solo Exhibition
Norwich Castle Open Art Show
2013
Chelmsford Borough Museum: Two Man Exhibition with Paul Rumsey, 9th February to 21st April.
2013
Studio Eleven, Westcliff on Sea, Essex: ‘Kiss the Joy’ mixed exhibition.
2013
Royal Society of British Artists, Annual Exhibition: The Mall Galleries, London.
2014
March 1st-30th ‘…just as it is…’ Chappel Galleries, Essex: Solo Exhibition.
September Sunday Times/ Smith Williamson Watercolour Competition: The Mall Galleries, London and touring.
 2015
 Lyn Painter-Stainers: The Mall Galleries, London 16th to 21st February 1st prize winner.
Piers Feetham Gallery, London: Solo Exhibition 19th March to 11th April
 2016
The Arborealists Exhibition: St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, Lymington, Hampshire.
 2017
John Russel Gallery, Ipswich, Suffolk: Solo Exhibition.
The Arborealists Exhibition: Nature in Art Museum and Art Gallery, near Gloucester.
The Arborealists: Les Dortoirs des Moins, St Benoit, Poitiers, France
 2018
March 3rd – 1st April “…stand stable, here / And silent be…”Chappel Galleries, Essex: Solo exhibition
The Arborealists: John Davies Gallery, Moreton-in-Marsh June dates tba
Black Swan Arts, Frome 20 July – 2 September
St Ives Society of Artists 29 September – 24 November
 
 
COLLECTIONS
 
 
1989
Essex County Council
1999
Jiangsu Province Art Museum, People’s Republic of China
Jiangsu Province Department of Culture, People’s Republic of China
2000, 09
Chelmsford Museums, Essex
2000
Ipswich Borough Council Museums & Galleries, Suffolk
2012
Colchester and Ipswich Museums (on behalf of Colchester Borough Council)
2016
Beecroft Art Galley/Southend on Sea Museum, Essex.
Our Lady Immaculate, Catholic Primary School, Chelmsford, Essex.
 
 
PUBLICATIONS
 
 
2000
February Edition, Jiangsu Art Monthly
April Edition, Artists & Illustrators Magazine
2003
A Walk in the Country – 32pp Monograph
2006
“Southwold: An Earthly Paradise” by Geoffrey Munn.
Władysław Mirecki at Fifty – 32pp Monograph.
BBC Television Programme: ‘Seven Man-made Wonders of the East’ interview about Chappel Viaduct, showing Mirecki’s paintings depicting the Viaduct.
2009
‘On My Doorstep’: Introduction by Laura Gascoigne published by Chappel Galleries, Essex.
The Spectator “Winter Fine Arts” by Andrew Lambirth November issue.
Jackdaw Magazine “Easel Words” May/June issue.
The Artist Magazine, “Masterclass” November issue.
Pratique des Arts magazine France, December issue.
2010
Duncan Campbell exhibition brochure: Introduction by Andrew Lambirth, art critic of The Spectator.
2012
Jackdaw Magazine page 36: News 'That Beckam Tattoo'
'Closely Observed' Landscape - East Anglia and Beyond: Introduction by Andrew Wilton published by Piers Feetham Gallery, London.
Lynn Painter Stainers catalogue page 11 ‘Holme Valley, Yorkshire’.
‘Around and About: Introduction by David Lee editor of ‘Jackdaw’ published Chappel Galleries, Essex.
2014
‘…just as it is…’ Introduction by Mark Curteis, Curator Chelmsford Museum, published by Chappel Galleries, Essex.
2015
‘New Landscape Watercolours’ Introduction by Andrew Lambirth, published by Piers Feetham Gallery.
2016
The Arborealists – The Art of the Tree Introduction by Tim Craven, curator Southampton City Art Gallery published by Sansom & Co..
2017
Les Arborealists L’art des arbres, published by Plato-Beale Productions London
2018
“…Stand stable, here / And silent be…”: Introduction by Frances Spalding
32pp Monograph Published by Chappel Galleries, Essex
 

 

 
 

 

 
 
 
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