From Landscape to Inscape: Colin Pink

Daniel Goodwin’s art reflects on his experience of people, places and music. He is attracted to places where the primordial is close to the surface: rugged cliff-top paths in Wales, the beaches of the Isle of Harris and prehistoric settlements in Shetland.

His watercolours and acrylics combine a strong graphic quality with delicate washes of colour. His lines set up a dynamic rhythmic energy within the image while at the same time deftly delineating forms and contours. The work is spontaneous and replete with a bounding energy that seems to call us to celebrate the life-force all around us.

His palette of rich blues, greens and yellows and the vigorous twisting forms of trees, grasses and roots remind one of the Pembrokeshire landscapes of Graham Sutherland. Each landscape motif is, at the same time (to use a term coined by the poet Gerard Manley-Hopkins) an inscape: an evocation of the inner essence or creative being of the natural world. It is both individually distinctive and a token of the underlying energy of being.

In addition to celebrating the genius of place Goodwin also finds inspiration in music. Since Kandinsky artists have found a strong affinity between the experience of music and the rhythmic forms and colours of abstract imagery. Goodwin’s sketch books contain small sketches that are the result of a process of automatic drawing while listening to music. Each drawing is notated with the name of the composer and piece of music. These are not in any sense literal transcriptions but rather the alignment of sensory experience and imagination to form parallel worlds expressing a kind of hieroglyphic equivalent to his experience of the music.

It is worth noting that discourse around painting and music has many terms in common: tone, colour, rhythm, line, pitch, are all used to refer to both music and imagery. Some of Goodwin’s music inspired sketches are later worked up into large scale abstract paintings where the visual code of graphic marks and crystalline colours are preserved on canvas.

As well as finding inspiration in classical music and jazz Goodwin was, like many of us, deeply moved by the death of David Bowie and several of the paintings are derived from songs on Bowie’s penultimate album The Next Day and carry titles referring to songs on the album.

Some of Goodwin’s energetic paintings, with their palette of blue, red and black, and their raucous spontaneity remind me of German Neo-Expressionist art (especially the work of A.R. Penck) in their elaboration of a pungent shorthand of pictograms that work to capture the buzzy interaction of people and places.

Goodwin’s paintings and drawings are full of energy and often have a primitive ritualistic quality that conjures up a sacred dance of the felt and the seen. As well as evoking a strong sense of place, they create a sense of sedimented time, where both the duration of their making and the temporality of the motif are suspended in a unified image.

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Colin Pink is an independent art historian and writer. A collection of his poems, Acrobats of Sound, was published in 2016. (https://colinpink.wordpress.com/)