Helen Thomson goes retro with the painting of Paul Reid. And before you mention it, yes I know that isn't the painting she's talking about. But there isn't a picture of that one online.
Odysseus on the
Oil on Canvas, 2007
Paul Reid is without doubt one of the most talented artists to emerge out of
Odysseus on the
The composition of this painting shows a group of characters mid-way through action, freeze-framed as it were. It is at once natural and contrived, with the figures laid out just slightly too conveniently, in order to suit the purpose of the painting. Yet the painting has the look of a photo, so as to feel the characters could start moving again if only you stand watching them for long enough.
It is not only the characters in the foreground that are magnificently depicted, but there is incredible attention to detail in the background. The props lying around the characters get as much attention as Odysseus and his men, resulting in fruit lying on the floor that looks edible, clothing, discarded by the now nude half-animals, lying creased and crumpled on the ground, a sword leant against a rock that glints with the polish of real metal. The foliage surrounding the scene is scarcely less perfect. The trees are depicted even down to the smallest branch, the leaves can be more or less distinguished from one another even far into the distance. Without a doubt Reid harks back to all that was best in neo-classical style.
There are very few points, really, on which I can criticise this painting. There was a slight problem that I noticed with Odysseus’ foot and lower right leg, but if I have to be that pedantic then he obviously hasn’t gone that far wrong. He shows remarkable skill in his painting, a skill that is not often exhibited in this world of modern art. To deem his style of painting redundant, as some have done, is grossly unfair. Surely, given the public’s love for things made in a style that went out years ago, it should be deemed retro.