The October exhibition at Peninsula Gallery in Lewes, opening 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5, is a travelogue of images sent on, like postcards from a thoughtful, well-traveled and loving uncle. Artist Roger Dellar is a well-known British impressionist artist who has shown here and taught workshops for 10 years or so in this area.
The exhibition, Interiors Inspired by Light, might also have been called Windows on My World or The View from Here, each conveying the notion of an observant fellow quickly capturing the essence of a scene, rapidly grabbing brush and pencil, watercolor or pastel to convey the energy and light at this moment and in this particular place before it escaped for all time.
Given the sense of intimacy and the generally small-scale and notational nature of the depictions, these works seem like they could be studies for larger works which may well be more detailed and of greater pictorial play. Yet they call the viewer to their surfaces, where a seductive mix of color and dancing brushwork engage interest and reward the closer look. All of this orchestrates an evocative and moody picture of Roger’s world, where light creates a high-contrast and largely silhouetted observance of the scene or activity or place of the moment, where vignettes represent the bigger picture, and the strategically placed figures remain aloof and essentially unaware, allowing ‘me’ to believe for a moment that they just might be ‘us’ drinking at that tavern, dancing in that recital or playing at that concert. There is something here for everyone, from kitchen worker to impresario.
Among my favorites is "Sunday Papers," where a casual glance from above highlights a lovely young woman coiled on the floor perusing the post. Swathed in the lustrous light of a nearby window, the folds of her frock are choreography in paint – flicking and gliding onto the newspaper as well – marrying the central figure to the negative space of the lower right corner and dancing into a compositional pose that fixes the scene. The parallel structures of window to frame are echoed in the woman’s arms, further anchoring the composition - all of it releasing the radiant white in a staccato of brush strokes - not so simple, but utterly charming.
Similarly, "One Piano, Four Hands" compositionally cubes its square format and suspends players and piano in an arena, very like a boxing ring, where the willful, dark and somewhat forbidding profile of the piano counterpunches with the beauties, in this case a blonde and a brunette - in the making of music.
"The Lounge," one of the larger works in the exhibition, is also one of the boldest. Dellar anchors the right edge of the painting with a truncated lamp shade, forging an east–west axis which positions both the scale and parameters of the room. Thus created, this high-ceilinged arena for club chairs and soft sofas sits awash in a dappled light streaming in through lofty arched windows. Public or private, this is a lovely space with grand proportions.
"Café in Seville" is one of my favorites in the show. It is a picture of expectancy, sparsely populated, but anticipating the crowd that will soon arrive. The light at the rear of the composition is natural but must be fading, because the ceiling lights and chandeliers have been lit. In a taut and tense perspective, they race along the bar from the far end of the room, ready to highlight more patrons and focus on the tapas being readied for consumption. A sole table mate waits for companionship. This evening will begin soon, or so we are to believe.
The show runs from Oct. 5 to Oct. 30. The opening reception is in the main exhibition space at Peninsula Gallery, 520 E. Savannah Road. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday; closed Mondays. For more information call 302-645-0551.