Colin Jellicoe
reviews : page 2 of 3
page 1      page 3
link - home link biography link exhibitions link retrospective works link current work link links link buying link contact

40/40 vision
Tim Birch talks to gallery director and painter Colin Jellicoe

“So ‘life begins at 40’, eh?”. Colin Jellicoe replies with a wry, accommodating smile. He’s heard it all before in forty years of painting in the city of Manchester. In today's terms of multiple shifts along short-lived career paths, forty years along the anxious road of the artist is no mean feat. But a brief recce reveals that Jellicoe had found his calling early in life and stuck to it.

Born In Rusholme, sketching since childhood, Jellicoe spent some of the swinging ’60s with an easel in Platt Fields. That’s either dedication for you or just childhood, but either way his enthusiasm was, and is, evident. By the next decade he was settled in his current space at 82 Portland Street. So what keeps Mr. Jellicoe going? He cuts to it: “I get ideas from the movies. It started way back in the ’70s”. Odd that a painter would be inspired by the very medium which is often referred to as the cause of painting’s demise in the cultural firmament. But Jellicoe is unfettered by intellectual claptrap or the flirtatious tastes of the twentieth century. He candidly directs attention through the details of one of his older paintings, “That came from some source, these came from other sources, but the overall idea came from another movie”.

He talks with impressive knowledge of the Western genre, delivered with the natural, laconic grace of a filmic cowboy. Thus he keeps on going, making plain sense - a bit like Richard Farnsworth’s character in David Lynch’s The Straight Story. Sure enough, the artist and his work seem to exude the code of life on the range: a metaphor suggesting the committed endeavour of the artist perhaps? But that would be reading a lot into it, and this is where the cowboy allusion ends. His is not an obsession with those lone rangers of celluloid, even though the contemporary works include cowboys. Jellicoe explains that he is drawn to “their theatricality, they’re all playing a role”. He moved on from the movies long ago, and started taking photographs of his friends and himself to springboard ideas.

Of picturing himself in his work he simply adds, “I’m just playing a part”. The influence of celluloid seems to be a stylistic mechanism: the landscapes are like Hollywood backdrops or the real wilds of the West; the cowboys highlighting certain feelings writ large in such environments. His painting has not used the photograph for faithfully realist representations. It’s rather that film has played its part as catalyst, inspiring Jellicoe to translate an immediacy of feeling within his subtle but emotive works. Visually anonymous, semi-abstract figures appear as if captured at solitary, introspective moments. Overall, the canvases are like a series of antinomies - or conflicts of authority - familiar to the cowboy: the individual over community, freedom over restriction, integrity over compromise, nature over culture. pragmatism over idealism. But then that’s just reading into things again. Jellicoe pragmatically corrects, “I just see these moments”. Those moments have added up to his Forty Year Retrospective, opening on 7 April. It's a special moment, but once again Jellicoe is forthright in his analysis, “I’m fortunate having the retrospective. You can see how the work’s progressed over the forty years”. Here’s to another forty!

City Life, April 2000