First Light by Paul Cousins, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy Central Gallery.
An exhibition of landscapes by two artists with contrasting approaches is at the Central Art Gallery in Ashton-under-Lyne until March 19.
Approaching Landscape: paintings by Paul Cousins and Ulrich West appears to be an odd partnership at first. Both are fascinated by the natural landscape, but Cousins’ work celebrates the expanse of the sky with huge swathes of colour on large canvases, while West engages with surreal wastelands and rusting details in small-scale works.
Landscape with Maganese Blue Rainbow by Ulrich West, mixed media. Courtesy Central Gallery.
Yet the two artists have been friends for more than 20 years, both graduating from Liverpool College of Art and teaching before turning to painting and artwork full-time. They have often exhibited together.
Cousins describes himself as a colourist and produces broad views of brooding seas and skies. He lives and works in the shadow of Fiddler’s Ferry power station, near Widnes, which informs his paintings – he makes his comment on environmental issues on the canvas.
Lost Horizon by Paul Cousins, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy Central Art Gallery.
“I have continued to take inspiration from this ever-changing motif,” he says of his interest in landscape, “and constantly develop ideas which attempt to explore colour, space and composition with undertones of human activity and interference.”
West’s concentration on the destructive force of nature is even more evident, in works that use photography and collage to suggest corrosion, layering of ages and rebuilding of surfaces. Burnt-out cars, rusting heaps and weathered walls feature in his work.
Winwick Corridors by Ulrich West, mixed media. Courtesy Central Art Gallery.
He says: “My recent work is a continuing development of my interest in the evolution of the landscape due to natural and manmade influences. I am fascinated by surface weathering, erosion and obsolete industrial structures and detritus – but also on what may lie beneath the surface, left by our ancestors.”