Tuesday, 24 May 2016

David Saunders Painting Blog

Crimson form with grey 2016
Acrylic on wood 125x100cm


   Untitled, greys, black, crimson 2015
   Acrylic and ink on Bockingford paper


Untitled grey-green 2015
Acrylic and ink on Bockingford paper


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Psyche Before the Castle of Love  -  Yves Bonnefoy

Translated by David Saunders

He dreamt that he opened his eyes on suns 
Nearing the harbour, ever silent,
Fires quelled; but reflected in the grey water
Of a shadow where teeming colours waited.

Then he awoke.  What is light ?  
What to paint here at night ?  To enhance
This blue, the ochres, all the reds,
Is it not death even more than before ?

So he painted the port but showed it in ruins.
He heard the waves lashing beauty's flank
And children crying in closed rooms,
The stars sparkled among the stones.

But his last picture, just a sketch,
Seemed to show Psyche returned,
Collapsed in tears or singing softly to herself 
In the tangled weeds near the entrance to the castle of Love.


Il rêva qu'il ouvrait ses yeux, sur des soleils
Qui approchaient du port, silencieux
Encore, feux éteints ;  mais doublés dans l'eau grise
D'une ombre où foisonnait la future couleur.

Puis il se réveilla.  Qu'est-ce que la lumiere ?  
Qu'est-ce que peindre ici de nuit?  Intensifier
Le bleu d'ici, les ocres, tous les rouges,
N'est-ce pas de la mort plus encore qu'avant ?

Il peignit donc le port mais le fit en ruine,
On entendait l'eau battre au flanc de la beauté
Et crier des enfants dans des chambres closes,
Les étoiles étincelaient parmi les pierres.

Mais son dernier tableau, rien qu'une ébauche,
Il semble que ce soit Psyché qui, revenue,
S'est écroulée en pleurs ou chantonne, dans l'herbe
Qui s'enchevêtre au seuil du château d'Amour.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Dedham seen from Langham

Dedham seen from Langham -  by Yves Bonnefoy 
Translation by David Saunders


Dedham seen from Langham. The summer is dark 
Where the clouds gather.
You could believe
That all this, hedges, distant villages,

River, is going to end. That the earth is not 
Even the eternity of the beasts, the trees, 
And that the sound of bells, that left
This church tower, vanishes

Merely a sound among earthly sounds,
As the hope we sometimes have
To have seen signs on stones
Falls, as soon as we see better these untidy lines, 

These marks, these starts of the naked thing.

But you knew how to mix with your colour 

A kind of sand that from the sky
Collects the sparkle in the matter.
There where it was chance that spoke

In the crumbling, in the dense clouds, 
You have vanquished,
From an opening of music,
The form that closed in all life.

You listen to the sound of bees of bright things, 
The swelling sometimes, this absolute
That vibrates in the meadow among the shadows, 

And you let it live in you, and you are calmed 
Thus to be no longer in haste or fear.

Oh painter,
As a hand presses a bunch of grapes, divine hand,
The wine depends on you; the light must not be this claw that tears 

All form, all hope, but a joy
Even in the blackened cups of the feast day.
Landscape painter, thanks to you
The sky is held still over the world
Like the angel above Agar when she went,
Empty-hearted, into the maze of the stone.

And plenitude is in the sound,
When you want it, of the stream that in the grass 

Has gathered the murmur of the bells,
And eternity is given in the scent
Of the simplest flower ! It's as if
The earth really wanted what the mind dreams.

And the little girl who comes in a dream
To play in Langham's meadow, and sometimes 

Looks at this Dedham from afar, and wonders
If it isn't over there that she should live,
Picks for nothing the flower that she breathes 

Then tosses and forgets it; but they are not rippled 
In the eternal summer,
The waters of this life nor of this death.


From when I first knew you I have trusted you, 

Because you have your eyes open whilst dreaming 
And you risk your thought in the image
As one dips one's hand in water, you take the fruit 

Of colour, of form broken,
You place these realities among things said.

I honour your days, that are just the earthly task, freed 

From the haste that dazzles them. Just the road
But slower over there in the dust.
Just the summit
Of mountains from here but freed,
An instant, of space. Just the blue
Of water taken from the well in the green of the grass 

But for the conjunction, the transformation
And the plant that rises from another world,
Palms, bunches of fruit still held,
In the agreement of two tones, our unique life.
You paint, it is five o'clock in the eternity
Of the summer's day. And the flame
That burned through the world is detached
From things and dreams, transmuted.
We could say that only a mist remained
On the glass divide.

The star of your painting is more
Than the immensity that fills the worlds in vain. 

It guides things towards their true place,
There it illuminates their other sides,
When the hand from outside tears the image, 

Smears the image with blood,
It knows how to gather the timorous flock
To huddle in the night, on the bare ground.

And sometimes,
In the misty mirror of the last hour,
It knows how to release, we say, as a hand
Wipes the pane that the rain has made glisten, 

Some simple shapes, some signs
That shine from beyond words, indecipherable
In the stillness of memory.
Forms re-drawn, recoloured
To the horizon that closes language,
It is as if the lightning that struck
Suspended, in the same instant, almost eternal,
Its gesture of a drawn sword, as if surprised 

Rediscovered the country of its childhood, 
Traveling its roads; and, pensive, touched
The forgotten objects, the clothes
In the old cupboards, the two or three
Mysterious playthings of its first
Divine elation. She, death,
She defeats the time that the world travels,
Shows the wall that the sunset lights,
And brings around the house towards the bower 

As a gift, oh joy here, in the brief hour,
The fruits, the voices, the reflections, the rumours, 

The light wine just in the light.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016


I find David Saunders' sequence of six canvases entitled Black Transformation painted in 1973-4 similarly convincing, and I am surprised by the dates as the piece appears contemporary enough to have been painted this year.

I am interested also by other works from the same era: as well as the wonderful 1977 Rational Concepts portfolio of prints (7 English artists: Norman Dilworth, Anthony Hill, Malcolm Hughes, Peter Lowe, Kenneth Martin, Jeffrey Steele, Gillian Wise) there's a delightful pastel colour study by Jean Spencer and two of Peter Lowe's reliefs from 1968 in perspex mounted on wood, both 23 x 23 cm: Permutation of 4 Groups of 2 and Permutation of 4 Groups of 3, in which rational order and faktura combine to produce objects of staggering beauty.

The influence of these artists on Katrina Blannin and Andrew Bick is self evident. Bick's OGVDS-GW #2, directly quotes a work of Gillian Wise, and Blannin clearly follows a systems approach in her paintings. The wonderful paintings by Maria Lalic here Bohemian Green Landscape Painting and Sevres Blue Landscape Painting, both constructed by placing two landscape oriented canvases one above the other creating a “real” horizon line, also have visual similarities to the Jean Spencer study.

Andrew Parkinson
Saturation Point, July 2014

Installation view, 'Conversations around Marlow Moss', &Model, Leeds

Monday, 29 February 2016

Curriculum Vitae


Born 1936, lives in Tarascon sur Ariège, France

Selected One – person exhibitions

Mummery + Schnelle, London Art Rotterdam

La Galerie, Foix


Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt

Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax
SEVEN SEVEN, Gallery, London

Avivson Fine Art, London

South Square Gallery, Thornton

Liverpool Academy

Sally East Gallery, London

Lucy Milton Gallery, London
Bluecoats Gallery, Liverpool

Gardner Centre Gallery, University of Sussex

Bristol Arts Centre

A.I.A. Gallery, London

Selected group exhibitions


'Systems 1972', Tate Britain, London
’56 Group Wales - 60 years of art in Wales’ National Library of Wales
‘Intersections’  New Art Projects, London
‘Conversations around Marlow Moss’&Model, Leeds
2011 ‘Homage to the Founding Generation’ Institut für neue technische Form, Darmstadt 
2009 ‘Walking 2’ La Galerie, Foix ‘Homage to the Founding Generation’Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt
2008 ‘A Rational Aesthetic’ Southampton City Art Gallery
2007 ‘Wunderkamer’ Galerie St. Johann, Saarbrücken
2006 ‘The Stars Down to Earth’ The Nunnery, London
2004 Multiple Grafik und Objecte, Galerie St. Johann, Saarbrücken
2003 ‘Ten 10 Zehn’ Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt
‘25+25’ Galerie St. Johann, Saarbrücken
‘Serious Pleasure’, Centro Modigliani, Florence
Contemporary Art Society ‘ARTfutures’, City of London School
‘Eyes and Ears and Ears and Eyes’, The Nunnery, London
‘The Wreck of Hope’ The Nunnery, London
Contemporary Art Society ‘ARTfutures’, The Barbican Centre, London
Saunders, Bonnefoi, Pinceman et. al., Galerie le Carré, Lille,
‘Painting and Time, The Nunnery, London
‘Grossbritanien, Konstructive-Konkret’ Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt
‘Ten Artists from the British Isles’, JNJ Gallery, Prague
‘Mostyn Open 5’, Oriel Mostyn, LLandudno
‘A Different Contexture’ (David Saunders and Jagjit Chuhan), Acorn Gallery, Liverpool
‘Mostyn Open 4’, Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno
‘1000 Cubic Centimetres’, Wilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen
‘Blank Page 3’ Black Bull Gallery, London
‘Mostyn Open 2’, Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno 1989
‘Complexions’ (David Saunders, Nichole Charlette and Richard Bell) Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax and Galerie l’Ideé, Zoetermeer 1987
‘1000 Cubic Centimetres - Geometrical Miniatures’, Galerie de Sluis, Leidschendam 1986
‘Colour Presentations’, Gardner Centre Gallery, University of Sussex, Stoke on Trent City Museum, Spacex Gallery, Exeter
‘Colour Constructions’, Exhibiting Space, London
‘Systematic and Constructivist Drawings’, Wentworth Gallery, University of York
‘Four British Constructivists’ Engstrom Gallery, Stockholm
1980 ‘Artists’ Books’, Galerie Lydia Megert, Berne
Cleveland International Drawing Bienale.
‘Rational Practice’, Gardner Centre Gallery, University of Sussex
‘English and Dutch rational Drawings’, Galerie de Volle Maan, Delft
‘Rational Concepts’, Kunstcentrum het Badhuis, Gorinchem
‘British Constructivists’ Kunstsammlung, Gelsenkirchen
‘Ways of Making’ Chapter, Cardiff and Arts Council tour Art ’75 Basle
IKI ’74, Düsseldorf
‘Themes and Variations’, ICA, London
‘Systems’, Whitechapel Gallery, London and Arts Council tour
‘Matrix’, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol
‘Systems’, Amos Anderson Museum, Helsinki
‘Art in Wales, the 20th Century’, National Museum of Wales
‘Survey ’67- Abstract Painting’, Camden Arts Centre, London
Edinburgh Festival Open 100 (prizewinner)
‘Undefined Situation’, Howard Roberts Gallery, Cardiff
‘Tomorrow’s Artists’, Grabowski Gallery, London
‘Young Contemporaries’, RBA Galleries, London

Selected collections
Tate Gallery, London
Southampton City Art Gallery
Arts Council of England
Arts Council of Wales
The British Library, London
Conoco -Philips Collection, Warwick 
Dean Clough Collection, Halifax
Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt
Gemeente Museum, The Hague
Logica PLC, London
Rijksmuseum Meermano, The Hague
Stamford University, USA
University of Sussex
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Selected bibliography
Studio International September 1969, exhibition review, Terry Measham p. 87 
Studio International May 1970, exhibition commentary. p.237
Studio International May 1972, interview on Arts Council ‘Systems’ exhibition, Malcolm Hughes pp. 200 – 203
‘Systems’, Arts Council exhibition catalogue 1972. Texts by Stephen Bann and the artist. pp. 13, 40 – 42
Studio International November – December 1976, ‘Art and Experimental Music’ edition, p299
Blank Page Issue no. 3 London 1989
Handbook of Modern British Painting and Printmaking,1900 – 1990, second edition 1998, p.273
Photogenic Painting, Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, Introduction by Adrian Rifkin, Courtauld, London 1999, pp. 33 - 34
Art Monthly, May 2000, exhibition review, ‘The Wreck of Hope, p. 42
Schriftenreihe 4, 2001, ‘Malerie und Zeit’, 
Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt, pp. 33-36.
Constructed Abstract Art in England – A Neglected Avant-Garde’, Alastair Grieve, Yale University Press 2005, p54
Deaf School, The Non-Stop Punk Rock Party, Philip Du Noyer, Liverpool University Press 2013 pp. 40-1, 56, 64, 74, 232-3.