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  • Writer's pictureHaydn Dickenson


Bridget Riley, now 92 years of age and a doyenne of the British Op Art (Optical Art) movement, has stated:

My work is completed by the viewer”.

ORIENT IV ( ), Bridget Riley (1931)

The possibility that the viewer can add something, contribute elements via interpretation, even elevate a painting is an idea that absorbs me. We, as artists, are catalysts rather than the issuers of edicts. Abstract art, especially, opens itself to diverse subjective readings. A painting can suggest different things on a different day, according to the prevalent light, season, time of day, or the mood or personal circumstances of the person contemplating it.

One of my clients has very generously written:

I commissioned Haydn to paint a canvas for me in Spring 2022. I needed a beautiful, contemporary picture for the living room. The result is so much more that I could have hoped. It fitted my brief wonderfully. The colour is perfect: it conjures a mood of bright, brooding vitality and is a joy to look at. The compositional balance is fabulous. To me it hints at a landscape, tumultuous and deep. The sun appears to glimpse through a stormy sky and is reflected on some form in the mid-ground and possibly, the sea. Every time I look at it, I see something new, like the reflected shapes on the right. Maybe a far-off mountain, caught in the fading sunlight? That said, I love its ambiguity. It isn’t an obvious landscape. In essence it is an exploration of colour, tone, light and shade.”

A central preoccupation in my life is the theme of confinement, most particularly relating to the way in which we wish to escape the limitations that confinement brings while finding it hard to break free from the shackles with which we are familiar.

My very recent painting, CONFINEMENT, explores this theme.

CONFINEMENT - Haydn Dickenson (2023) Oil, Graphite and Conté Crayon on Canvas, 30 x 25 cm unframed

In the light of Bridget Riley's persuasive statement as quoted at the head of this article, I invite readers to offer interpretations of/reflections on this small painting.

So let's be hearing from you!

Copyright Haydn Dickenson 2023


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