John Rabling - 'Nobody looks at the moon in the afternoon'

Wednesday 12 September - Sunday 7 October 2018 

Painting pictures of people is an enthralling task. With one subtle brush mark an image of anger can turn to sadness, ambivalence to joy, stern repercussion to welcoming compassion. Possibilities are endless. Taking pigment, paper, a little inspiration and careful considered examination of what is before you and creating something new is an endlessly involving activity. However, like trying to look at the moon in the afternoon sky, attempts to record something you feel you cannot quite see and imbue it with some meaning is tricky; the details come and go in and out of focus – the point of detail you really want to convey is sometimes obscured by or confused with glare and cloud; line and curve in three dimensions seems sometimes impossible to convey in two dimensions; recording what you see, what you think you see and making decisions on that evidence is challenging.

These works on paper are Rabling’s attempts at resolving those challenges. They have been created using watercolour, sometimes accompanied by acrylic glazes, neither of which, historically, are considered ‘serious’ mediums for making portraits. For Rabling, these are eminently appropriate. The translucency and delicacy of watercolour and thin glaze are marvellous tools for segueing from fact to fiction, for creating a reality that is his, not someone else’s. With that in mind, these are not portraits in the sense that they are of ‘someone’ – they are interpretations as much as representations. They are deliberately intimate, introspective and intended to encourage reflection and contemplation.