During September and October the Castlefield Gallery is mounting and exhibition of two Scottish artists: Craigie Aitchison, now in his 60’s and recognised as one of the country’s leading painters (though he does not fit into any particular genre), and Peter Seal, in his 20’s and fighting to survive as an artist.
Both painters have moved away from their native towns – Craigie to London where he has been since 1952, and Peter to Manchester.
Despite the difference in age and background there are some striking similarities in their work. Both artists produce pictures of great clarity with an apparently simple and direct style, sometimes in Craigie’s case the simplicity is mistaken for naivety but infact the sophistication of his work has developed over the years from his days at the Slade when he studied with artists such as Euan Uglow and Victor Willing.
The overriding quality of both artists’ work is serenity, which is perhaps surprising, since both work in chaos. Peter paints in the midst of his young family who frequently appear on his canvases. His preoccupation is with things, which surround him – views through windows, his young son in the bath and still-life studies. Craigie Aitchison also paints still-lives – ‘so delicate a puff of wind could blow them away’ and portraits, generally of people with dark skins since he finds their rich colouring much more satisfying to work with. Crucifixion scenes form another part of his subject matter, which he has used in his paintings since visiting Italy in 1965 – the diminutive figure of Christ is set against a flat landscape reminiscent of the scenery of his Scottish childhood.
Despite the similarities in the two artists’ work the end result is very different but what remains in common to both is the sense that the paintings are so perfectly judged and this gives them strength that sustains the viewer for a long time and invites them to look again and again.