Heron – (Colour before detail)

Patrick Heron - The White Table - 1955 - 71 x 91 cm - 28 x 36 in - oil on canvas

This gorgeous still life by British artist Patrick Heron is a superb example of reducing information to enable colour to come forth.  In other words “colour before detail”.

He has provided us with a beautiful harmony which sings.  The dance of the yellow shapes and the rhythm of pink verticals are fantastic.  Reducing the plate to red lines and using the red to take you through the composition is very sophisticated.  Heron used the grid, or rectangles, as the primary motif and the blacks are in wonderful harmony with the bright colours.  Also enjoy the subtle rhythm of the white ovals, just above the plate.  And his sensitive consideration of a row of small black shapes to the right which complement or support the blacks on the plate beautifully.

Patrick Heron was greatly influenced by Braque, Bonnard and Matisse and he credited Matisse’s painting “The Red Studio” for setting him on his mature path which was creating paintings of colour, which naturally led him to abstraction.

I think having colour as your subject is a very challenging open consideration in art, and Heron was a exceptional colourist.

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