Clement McAleer
Cape Coasts: New Paintings
9 October - 7 November 2002
LONDON Main Gallery


For nearly thirty years the west coast of Ireland has been the main source of inspiration for Clement McAleer's painting. What was it then, that took him to South Africa's southern tip last year? How did the meeting place of the two great Indian and Atlantic oceans appear to him?

From the tiny village of Rooiels, which nestles against the vast Cape mountains as they plunge into the Atlantic an hour east of Cape Town, to Plettenberg Bay and the more inticing temperatures of the Indian Ocean, Clement set about depicting new seas, a new land, a new light.

"The sea here is much more dramatic than anything I've ever seen; the whole scale is bigger and the waves are overwhelming. Often there is an amazing vividness of colour and a wonderful luminosity. The ocean literally sparkles.
"For the very high seas I adopted a more organic approach to my painting. Everything is in flux in the big canvases, keeping the sense of transparency that you get in watercolour."

This loose abstraction, omitting even the horizon line, has appeared in his work before, but here there is a bigger effect of splash, with stains and layerings that articulate the surface through new dynamic markings.

In the smaller canvases the rocks, the spray, the huge horizons, become almost tangible. Paths towards the sea and dunes or occasional buildings and bushes occupy the foreground in richly textured paint, before sea and sky take over. The pictorial language here is more familiar, reminding us that memory and the familiar environment of the studio lend themselves to the reality of the painting process itself. Each work contains a new vision alongside a revision of all the coasts that Clement has ever painted.

This is a gorgeous body of work that reaches out to the sea, bringing it back with the wind, directly onto the gallery's walls.

An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.