Stephen West : Draw Breath

DRAW Breath, the new exhibition at Oriel Mwldan, by acclaimed artist Stephen West, offers through the medium of dramatic drawings, a powerful statement about the lungs of the planet, executed with immense skill and magnetic vigour.The effect of the dark line drawing, used to create the deep tangle of branches and leaves on ash trees, now currently dying in their thousands, stirs the mind to acknowledge the dark threat in the underworld contained in the loveliness of the woodlands. There is therefore more to the current exhibition than the surface images which when focussed upon, and breathed in, illustrate a further understanding of the concerned, artistic mind of Stephen West. West’s recognition that the trees are the lungs of the planet, and that without them we are lost, is carried in these images of trees. They are not all of them images of The Ash, there are others including a dramatic Fallen Beech, and then, surprisingly the viewer faces a series of pictures entitled ‘Committee Meetings’ where it seems that all the characters depicted are in the act of talking or shouting at one another. These satirical drawings are neither realistic nor abstract, but there is a sense in which the level of reality tells a story, as in Bwrdd Europ, and spectacularly in his take on Picasso’s Guernica?’ His style appears initially to be loose and lively, maybe even a little wild, but the composition and the structure, are in fact very strong and controlled. The small crowd that gathered for the opening were obviously impressed. Artist Eleri Mills, who travelled some 50 miles for the show, commented on the work. ‘It has an energy that is thrilling,’ she said. ‘But there is also something essentially classical about it.’

Alan Hewson, Project Director, Chapter Arts, Cardiff, gave the opening talk to the invited viewers, and said that he has known West as a committed artist, ‘He has a deep dedication,’ he said. ‘and works with a fluency and skill which is admirable.’

West describes himself as a ‘drawyer’, a term coined to describe someone making work through the medium of drawing and his work can be seen between now and January 25 in Oriel Mwldan open daily.

LW

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