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Willesden gallery


john thorogood

10th - 28th March 2020

This is a retrospective exhibition of John Thorogood’s work in which several groups of work, each quite varied in style and subject matter, are on show.

The ‘Treecolore’ group, with its obvious play on words, explores the decorative potential of winter trees in colours that complement the tricolour flags (in very ‘un-flaggy’colours) that are their backdrop.

The ‘Warrior’ group is an offshoot of a large canvas (also on display) made at art college some years earlier. Each work takes its title from ethnic warrior group classes or practices whose origins are suggested by the choice of colours.

The ‘Sacred Texts’ group also follows a common, simply defined format – originally a mere experiment with masking tape and calligraphic marking with a scraper tool, but emerging as suggestive of arcane writings on tablets or in illustrated scriptures. Some are enhanced by the application of colourful woven and embroidered Indian belts with hints of bookmarks or ecclesiastical shawls.

While these follow some kind of formula, the remaining sections are characterised by diversity of treatment, notwithstanding common themes.

The ‘Waterscape’ paintings range from near-literal interpretation to partial abstraction. The ‘Bridge’ scenes are all based on drawing from observation by the Thames in Central London. From this work there evolved the narrow format ‘Bridgescape’ abstractions, which in turn inspired the two ‘Harbour’ paintings with their flavour of the industrial port of Leith, Edinburgh, where the red geological exploration ships bring a dash of colour to the surroundings.

‘Abstract Squares’ are flights of fancy, with, in two cases, an acknowledgement of Paul Klee’s ‘taking a line for a walk’, where a simple rule ‘two straight, one curved’ governs how lines are steered to create a matrix across the canvas.

Thorogood’s enjoyment of portraiture and landscape are modestly showcased in this exhibition with four samples from his regular attendance at a portrait painting group and two of his occasional recordings of the Cumbrian landscape during family visits.