REVIEW OF PAST EXHIBITION

Blue Bag Washday1986 Link Magazine A.A.D.W. REVIEW from times past 1986 by artist Roy Powell Teacher and scholar working in Brecon.

REVIEW OF PAST EXHIBITION of paintings by VICTOR MORGAN entitled the First Ten Years’ was at Llantarnam Grange Art Center, Cwmbran from the 12th to the 24th of May 1986. With The Support of Welsh Arts Council

Genuine Primitives are few and far between and searching them out is like prospecting for gold. There is never any shortage of pyrites and dross but the thickest seams are to be found among the generations before 1914. we remember that generation for its plain speech and beautiful handwriting. They spent their lives under-achieving in steelworks and signal boxes and few of them found expression in painting in later life. Victor Morgan how ever is of a later generation and there for a rarer phenomenon-born in 1927. He has no objection to his style being referred to as primitive’ despite the inadequacy of this term and it’s patronizing overtones. He belongs to that category of painters whose total absorption in their subject matter is the secret of their unselfconscious forms and the uninhibited and spontaneous nature of their work. They still have a romantic appeal for us, and we think of them somehow as not having tasted of the forbidden fruit of the artistic tree of knowledge and cultivating their own paradise gardens which we can only view from outside. I first caught sight of his work at the mixed show of local painters at Newport Art gallery-an airship of the 1930s drifting over rooftops in Gwent. This picture typifies a common aim among primitive painters in striving to catch things exactly as they were physically and socially I had the great pleasure of visiting his home and found it wall-to-ceiling with a variety of extremely lively pictures. His oeuvre falls into various categories; the pictures from long-past memory are for me the most successful. A striking example is the washing-day scene of the 1940s.He shows the same involvement in the human figure as in the objects which surround them. The formidable boiler belching steam, a tin bath with wash board and coal bunker-stark and earthy but with a pervading joyous color. I should mention other excellent examples such as the paddle steamer (in the notable collection of M.Athanas Pouley of Paris) tied up in the River Usk and several other powerful images of ships. always surrounded with bright and glittering water which brings back one’s first childhood sensations of the sea. Among his earliest work is a copy of the ‘Hay Wain’ which is anything but a beginner’s cliché’ with its delightful sky, full of fascinating improvisations. He has a strong sculptural sense and has produced a number of pieces in welded metal (he is a welder at LLanwern by trade). I found the smaller pieces the most attractive-crabs and other small creatures, heavy to hold and like all good sculpture, equally interesting which ever they are tilted. Another facet of his varied work reveals his social conscience. These works are crowded with caricatured and reminiscent at times of work of George Grosz: One might be Apprehensive here that Victor might be becoming a little ‘artistic’ here but he takes the new direction with ease and his sense of form remains untainted. I suppose that we must remember that this cherished Naive quality is a relative term and like everyone else he is evolving towards the less naive to some degree. He is only too willing to explain the complicated symbolism in these paintings: medieval in its complexity. It gives us in visual terms the sayings, beliefs, hopes and fears of ordinary people. In case my remarks themselves seem patronising I shall end by suggesting that we are all primitives to some degree and if we succeed in producing anything of value, its essence is after all the primitive aspect of our work.

Roy Powell
1986 Link Magazine A.A.D.W.

Prin iawn yw pobl wir gyntefig ac mae dod o hyd iddynt fel chwilio am aur. Nid oes brinder pyritau a sorod ond cier” y gwythiennau mwyaf trwchus ymhlith y ygenhenlaeth a aned cyn 1914. Fe gofir y genhedlaeth hon am ei siared plaen a’i llawysgrfen gain. Treuliasant eu bywyidau mewn gweithfeydd dur a bythod signal, yn gwneud gwaith oedd islaw eu gallu.Llwyddodd rhai ohonynt ar derfyn oe i fynnegi eu hunain yn effeithiol drwy beintio. Y mae Victor Morgan, serch hynny, yn perthyn i genhedlaeth iau, ac y mae felly yn ffenomen fwy prin –fe’i ganed ym 1927. Nid yw’n gwrthwynebu’r disgrifiad ‘cyntefig er fod yn term yn un annigonol a ddefnyddir yn nawddoglyd ar brydiau. Y mae’n perthyn i’r dosbarth hwnnw beintwyr sy’n ymgolli’n llwyr yn y testun–a dyma gyfrinach eu ffurfiau naturiol a natur rydd a didwyll eu gwaith. Mae ganddynt apel rhamantaidd, a meddyliwn amdanynt fel rhai na flasodd ffrwyth gwaharddedig pren gwybodaeth artistig, ac sy’n trin eu gerddi paradwysaidd, na allwn ni eu gweld ond o’r tu allan. Gwelais ei waith am y tro cyntaf mewn arddangosfa gymysg o waeth arlunwyr llleol yn orial gelf Casnewydd–llong awyr o’r 1930au yn hofran dros doeau tai yng ngwent. Y mae’r llun hwn yn nodweddiadol o ymgais gyffredin ymhlin arlunwyr cyntefig i geisio darlunio pethau yn union fel y maent. Ymhen amser cefais y pleser mawr o ymweld a^’i gartref a darganfod muriau a oedd yn llawn o amrywiaeth o luniau bywiog dros ben Y mae ei oeuvre yn perthyn i sawl categori: y lluniau o hen bethau a gofir yw’r rhai mwyaf llwyddiannus yn fy nhyb i. Enghraifft drawiadol yn’r olygfa diwrnod-golch o’r 1940au. Canolbwyntir cymaint ar bobl ag ar y gwrthrychau o’u cwmpas. Y wyler trawiadol sy’n chwydu ager, y bath tun gyda’r bwrdd golchi a’r byncer glo– maent i gyd yn foel a phlaen ond gyda
lliw llon drwy’r cyfan. Fe ddylwn grybwyll enghreifftiau eraill fel y ‘stemar'(yng enghasgliad nodedig M. Athanas Poulev o baris) wedi ei angori ar afon Wysg a sawl delwedd rymus arall o longau gyda dwr gloyw a disglair yn eu hamgylchynu bob tro, yn dwyn i gof argraffiadau cyntaf plentyndod o’r mo^r. Ymhlith ei waith cynharaf ceir copi o’r Wagen Wair’– nad yw’n ystrydeb o bell ffordd gyda’i awyr hyfryd sy’n llawn arbrofi diddorol. Mae ganddo ymdeimlad cryf o gerflunwaith a chynhyrchodd sawl gwaith mewn metal wedi ei weldio (welder yn Llanwern ydyw wrth ei waith). Hoffais y darnu llai– crancod a chreaduriaid bychain eraill, sy’n swmpus yn y llaw ac, fel pob cerflunwaith da yn ddiddorol o bob ongl. Gwedd arall ar el waith amryiol yw ei gydwybod cymdeithasol. Mae’r gweithiau cyforiog hyn ar ffurf caricatur ac ynargoffa dyn o waith Gearge Gros ar brydiau. gellid ofni fod Victor yn y fan hon, ond dew’r datblygiad newydd yn rhwydd iddo ac ni ddylanwadwyd ar ei ymwybyddiaeth o ffurf. Dylem gofi mae’n debyg mai peth cymharol yw’r nodwedd naif brin,ac fel pawb arall mae ef yn tyfu’n llai naif i ryw raddau. Mae’n barod iawn i esbonio’r symbolaeth gymhleth yn y darluniau hyn. mae’n symbolaeth Garnol Oesol yn ei gymhlethdod,ac ynrhoi inni ddywediadau,credoau,gobeithion ac ofnau pobl gyffredin mewn cyfrwng gweledol. Rhag i’m sylwadau i fy hun ymddangos ynnawddoglyd diweddaf drewy awgrymu ein bod oll yngyntefig i ryw raddau neu’i gilydd ac os llwyddwn i gynhyrchu unrhywbeth o werth,ei hanfod wedi’r cyfan yw gwedd gyntefig ein gwaith.
Roy Powell.

1 thought on “REVIEW OF PAST EXHIBITION”

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