Philip Reeves claims his inspiration from landscape, but, as this piece shows, his minimalist style abstracts the subject into geometric forms. His signature approach to artwork involves distilling as subject down to its essential elements of form, colour and shape and then rebuilding it as an abstract image with that central essence in mind. This highly stylised representation of Swanage still contains hints of a landscape, such as the organic texture of the background and the watercolour quality of the central square which suggests a body of water with silhouetted buildings standing on the far shore.
The piece is a collage made up of several layers:
• The lowest layer is made up of old newspapers, treated by the artist to give it a golden colour, as if affected by age.
• The next layer forms the principle background, a textured brown fabric with an organic pattern etched into it.
• This is followed by a series of elements, including precise, mechanically cut zigzagging lines, a selection of neat rectangles and a roughly torn shape on the left.
• The central square is roughly cut out, warped and painted to give it a distinct texture. Rather than covering the other layers neatly, it interacts with them and other elements bisect it at points.
There is a strong contrast between the neat, mechanical, measured elements and the rough, organic, torn quality of others, contrasting the natural and artificial elements of the landscape. The strong colour contrast also helps to distinguish these elements.
Philip Reeves was born in Cheltenham in 1931 and came to the Glasgow School of Art as a teacher in the 1950s. He served as the President of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours 1998- 2005. He is a founding member of both the Edinburgh Printmakers' Workshop, and the Glasgow Print Studio and his work has been displayed in collections across Scotland, and in Canada, Denmark, England, France, Norway and the United States.