Seán Cotter

paintings and charcoals

Metro Life 2005


METRO 05-12-2005
Metro Life

Story of Paint
Painted Tales at the Hallward
Steve Pill

The National Gallery’s Northern Nocturnes exhibition finishes this week, but another more rewarding collection of atmospheric landscapes will also be drawing to a close.
Whereas the Nationals 17th century paintings concentrate on specific night scenes, Seán Cotter’s impressionistic pieces leave more to the imagination. Pale Blue Days hints at a beach scene, with flecks of washed-up debris and a suggestion of a pier drifting over the horizon line. If these painted tales were audible, they wouldn’t come spoken with clear diction but muttered under Cotter’s breath. By straining to make out these occasional phrases, the tales tell themselves as you join up the dots.
Luckily, there is substance behind these faint traces of form. Interior Red Road appears like an apocalyptic crossroads with just a few black lines as telegraph poles and splashes of crimson marking the highways. His contrasting colours set a restless mood as mould-spore textures creep across the canvas. The simple inclusion of the word ‘interior’ in the title suggests this is Cotter’s attempt to map out his emotional landscape. Who would have thought that a County Kildare native would be able to create such a vivid interpretation, both internally and externally, of that moment at the Delta when Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil?
He’s a modern day successor to Turner, albeit with more passion and humanity; if there’s any justice, it will be Cotter’s paintings the National is reappraising four centuries from now.



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