Summer has arrived at the Catto Gallery. Hampstead is in bloom. The trees on the heath are bursting with fresh young leaves. And inside the gallery, it’s no different. Alan Parry is back.
This new solo exhibition marks Alan’s third appearance with us. His debut came at the Catto Gallery’s own Hampstead Flower Show – a cheeky tribute to that rather more familiar affair across the capital. There was some fabulous work on display there. But it was newcomer Alan Parry and his delightfully English botanical visions that made the biggest impression.
A solo show was booked – and it was another great success. Now, Alan returns to entertain us all again.
The new collection re-examines the artist’s signature combination of formal beauty and a hint of something more mysterious. Let’s start with those spherical alliums, through which Alan communicates a joyous celebration of nature with a kind of mathematical rigour. They’re so gorgeous in a painting like White Cloud. Yet there’s also something a little intimidating about the way they crowd in like a marching army.
The circle motif Alan clearly loves so much in alliums re-surfaces in Lunar Hares and Kingfisher, where the moon looms majestically in the background. And again in Shepherd Hut, a painting that belongs in a sub-group with a strong debt to Magritte. Who is the woman in the moonlight? Why is her back turned? This is a new direction for the artist, one he explores further in the equally enigmatic The Downs and The Rider.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Alan has admitted the pull of surrealism before, though previously the inspiration was possibly the very English stylist Paul Nash rather than the Belgian bureaucrat Rene Magritte.
Alongside the beauty and the mystery in this new collection, there’s also harmony. It’s clear that Alan treasures symmetry and balance as much as he does colour and mood. And so we come to another group of paintings including The Essential Bee, Fields Of White and The Ocean At The End Of The Garden. They’re so precise and tranquil – each one a triumph of composition.
Of course, Alan doesn’t need to travel far to find inspiration for such works. He lives in rural Worcestershire, one of England's ‘garden’ counties, on the doorstep of wild terrain and manicured formal settings, all of which provide the perfect backdrop for his wonderful storytelling.