Thursday, 26 February 2009

I can hardly believe I'm real

This blog is here so that you can submit the thoughts and memories that are evoked by the exhibition of the work of Vicki Reynolds held at the Cafe Gallery of the Royal Academy of Arts, Picadilly, London W1.

You can find more information about Vicki's work at

Vicki Reynolds was born in Portsmouth in 1946 and studied at Goldsmiths' College and the Royal Academy Schools where she was awarded the Richard Ford Travelling Scholarship.

In her later years Vicki became increasingly dismissive of theory driven art practice, but in fact she had a sophisticated grasp of Art History. Significant influences on her work include El Greco, Cezanne, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and T.S.Eliot. She had been a regular visitor to the Prado in Madrid and her experience of landscape in Spain somehow imbued all her later work.

"In the beginning was the word" says the bible and much of contemporary art practice, but Vicki Reynolds had no time at all for wordy explanations of her sensual experience of the world.

She said that "Painting is a way of being alive, not a way of life". Each new day, presented a new opportunity to get to grips with the impossible, but wonderful task of imaging what her body experienced. Vicki's art work lacks any kind of pretension and she once said that when making work she felt just the same as she did when drawing at her mother´s kitchen table when she was a little girl.

Vicki was totally committed to her work and completely dismissive of the passing fashions that she felt plagued contemporary art practice. Her work is ambitious, but her attitude was rather self effacing and unpretentious and she resisted all attempts by her friends to organise a major show of her work during her lifetime.

It sounds obvious to say that to understand Vicki's work you have to look at the image itself, but actually looking at an image is a complicated business and makes considerable demands on the viewer. Unlike much of contemporary work, there is no text, what you see is what you get, but what you see will develop the more you look. In Vicki's late work, the image was never separated from that that was imaged and there was a constant reference from one to the other.

If you look at her work with as few preconceptions as possible, then you will unlock the love, obsession and experience that is present in all her images.