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80 year-old Gloucester artist excited for first solo exhibition

Gloucester > Entertainment > Art

Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Monday, 24th February 2020, 09:00

One of Alex’s abstract paintings One of Alex’s abstract paintings

Alex Wallace has lived in Gloucestershire for over forty years.

Originally from Edinburgh – his Scottish lilt is still clear to hear – he came to this part of the country for work, after previously living in Leeds, Sussex and on the other side of the world in New Zealand.

Now settled in Hucclecote with his wife Gillian, Alex has been retired for close to 15 years, which has given him time to focus on his passion – painting.

“I worked in printing all my life,” said Alex, “When I was an apprentice in Edinburgh, I used to go to the art college to do drawings.

“But of course, you’ve got to earn a living so I couldn’t do it full time. I’ve always done it in my spare time when I could.”

As most people find, retirement throws up plenty of spare time, and Alex has made the most of it.

The spare room in his house has been converted into a makeshift studio for Alex to hone his talents, and he says that when it comes to art, practice makes perfect.

“I think it’s taken a lot of work,” he continued.

“I’m sure I have a little bit of talent, but you really have got to work, you’ve got to make the best of your talent.”

That hard work has seemingly paid off, with Alex set to host his very first solo exhibition this month at the Gloucester Guildhall.

The exhibition is entitled ‘Realism to Abstraction – An Artistic Journey’, and reflects Alex’s shift into the world of abstract art.

He said: “I’ve always been quite good at drawing but I’ve always wanted to break out and be a bit freer and less controlled, a bit more abstract, and its only in the last year that I’ve been able to do that.

“I’ve always been interested in abstraction. Picasso is the most innovative painter of the 20th century I think.”

The exhibition will feature around 30 original artworks by Alex, detailing the evolution of his own style.

“It’s two quite different approaches,” he explained. “To make a painting realistic, but not just a copy of an object is quite a difficult skill and you have got to work at it.

“Abstraction is really quite different, because in some ways you’ve got to let go of the control a bit – you’ve still got to have the idea of what you want to produce, otherwise all you do is a design and it might be a nice bit of wallpaper but that’s all it is.

“And then you take all the other things you’ve learned like how colours interact with each other, how they work, what the compositions are like, all sorts of things to make it successful.”

So why did it take so long for Alex to give abstraction a go?

“I don’t know!” he laughed.

“It’s comfort zone. I used to say it to people in my portrait class, ‘don’t just do what you can do really well, try something that you can’t do well and see where it leads you’.

“You can easily trundle along doing things that you’re good at but if you want to progress and be serious you’ve got to push the boat out.”

But he admits it’s pleasing to see the end results of all his hard work and describes the satisfaction of completing an abstract piece.

He added: “You get more of a sense of ‘oh crikey that’s come out really well’. You start seeing something in the picture and it’s very interactive, very much in that particular moment.

“My grandson is seven and I ask him, ‘what do you think this is?’, and he comes up with things that are quite different. He usually likes them anyway!

“I always ask different people what they think, and they do come up with things different to what I intended – but that’s part of art isn’t it? People pick up on things that they see and that’s what makes the great paintings last a long time.”

‘Realism to Abstraction – An Artistic Journey’ will be at Gloucester Guildhall from Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 28th March.

Other Images

An example of Alex’s work with realism

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