Brian Fletcher has made a name for himself with large scale paintings and drawings of the Black Country.
He captures scenes most of us would drive past without a glance, bringing underpasses and derelict houses to life in a frenetic whirl of colour and impasto.
He paints with great passion and commitment and explores a wide range of
subject matter using a variety of media. He regards himself as an expressionist, exploring his subjective responses to the drama of mountain and rural landscape, architecture and the human figure…
Impasto (from the Italian ‘to paste upon’) requires courage and vision: layering paint, or more literally ‘raising paste’ to create texture and movement in a swordsman’s flourish of brush and palette knife.
The end result, in the right hands, is vivid and immediate.
Brian says: ‘‘I work large because it allows a freedom of expression and emotion I cannot find in smaller work. When I was at school we used to tease each other with a saying: ‘If you can’t fight, wear a big hat.’
‘I still don’t know what this means but I sometimes wonder if it might apply to my painting: ‘If you can’t paint, use a big brush.’’
Brian can paint. He’s an elected member of the RBSA, the Birmingham Art Circle, Dudley Society of Artists and Vice President of the Easel Club. He has many opportunities to exhibit, and his influences reveal a formal training and deep appreciation of art.
‘I am influenced by so many great painters,’ he says. ‘Where to begin? Soutine, Frank Auerbach, Barbara Rae, the Fauves, Dennis Creffield, David Bomberg… many, many others, all of them expressionist, adventurous painters and draughtsmen.’
Walk into an exhibition and you can’t miss Brian’s paintings.
They leap out at you, an immediate presence in the room. Search for his paintings on Flickr and they shout from the crowd, demanding to be seen.
The rugged industrial scenery of the region inspires much of his work, as well as British mountain scenery. He also paints and draws the human figure.
‘I was raised a good Black Country lad close to large steel industries in which my father and the community worked. So it was a great influence in my formative years.
‘In my painting I respond to the rugged and vibrant influences of this culture and to the bright colours and massive forms to be found in industrial structures.
‘Much of it is now in decay and this inspires me in that it seems to release bold colour and new forms.’
Brian’s work is frequently featured in exhibitions in the area, most recently Black Seen and The Industrial Muse, which drew artists from the area together.
‘We all had strong links to the region, present and past, and so myself and fellow artists decided that it would be a good theme. Our work responds to the visual stimulus of the Black Country.’
Brian is currently working on portraiture and life drawing.
‘In the immediate future I am intending to return to another theme that I pursue – large impasto and intensely coloured cathedral interiors.
‘Although the direct subject matter is different from the Black Country series, the handling of paint and gestural are the same. Both are inspired by robust and rugged subject matter.’
`Remember that a painting before becoming a favourite theme, a nude or a specific anecdote is just a flat surface covered with colours in a certain order.` – Maurice Denis
‘I look at nature and write my own song about it.` – Ivon Hitchens