The title of this show is ‘Across the Water’, and with it I am trying to find wide enough frame for pictures painted during and following last year's two week trip to the USA (New York, Long Island, Martha's Vineyard), as well as those subjects I will always love to repeat: London Thames views, North Devon beaches and Exmoor river scenes.
My work starts on the spot, with studies done in oil direct from the subject. I have been doing this for 30 years, but it still seems as difficult as it is satisfying. There is a happy struggle to be had at first hand, making marks, getting freezing cold, or sunburnt, trying to make decisions about whether to go with the light or against it, and how best to compose a subject. But if it starts en plein air, it does not necessarily end there: I want to develop things in the studio, to be ambitious with scale or to explore tone in a more considered, controlled environment. When I am doing this, I am still, in my mind at least, getting my feet wet and reliving the experience of those first efforts in front of the subject, but I am also able to concentrate in a different way. Somewhere between these two approaches I am trying to find a painterly way of saying something about the landscapes which inspire me.
Many of the pictures here feature water, a subject I have always enjoyed painting, not least the changing surface of the Thames which is an endless inspiration, its mood shifting with the tide, the weather and the season. In America I was (again) awed by the majestic power of the Manhattan skyline. But I also had an opportunity to paint outside New York, and was struck by the different light and feel of the coasts and harbours of New as opposed to Old England.
For 44 years I have been making August sandcastles on North Devon beaches (incidentally it's very often the dads who dig most enthusiastically!), looking out past Lundy and imagining America somewhere way out beyond. This was a chance to look back the other way, to paint Americans enjoying beach life, and to render the breakers which are formed in the ocean that both separates and connects us. I might be waxing a little poetic just here, but despite my work being rooted in observation and 'looking', there is I hope an unspoken theme running through a lot of the pictures which is about contemplation, of what Baudelaire called 'l'invitation au voyage'. I certainly feel myself to be a romantic rather than a pure realist, but you must be the judges of whether the pictures manage to say it too.
Luke Martineau, August 2014
"My first Luke Martineau painting was of the water. It was in a Chelsea Art Society exhibition a few years ago, and it simply leapt out at me. It shows two children with buckets and spades on a flat, watery East Anglian beach, and it is full of light and atmosphere. I love it. I loved it so much that I bought three more, two of more water and boats and figures, and one an illustration for a childrens’ book of an elephant, in quite a different style - more precise and graphic - but just as beguiling.
These are paintings to live with. Luke’s skill with light, and light on water, and his eloquent impressionistic rendering of figures, as well as his remarkable ability to define landscapes and townscapes, make him as accessible as he is distinguished. To find a contemporary painter of this versatility and humanity is rare indeed, and if you don’t own one already, I warmly suggest that you should start."
Joanna Trollope, novelist
8 October - 24 October 2014
Panter & Hall
11-12 Pall Mall
Monday to Friday
10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
CLOSED BANK HOLIDAYS