Richard Galpin’s Free State I 26.03.09

words William Wiles

Free State II is one of artist Richard Galpin's latest works, produced for a solo exhibition now showing at the Hales Gallery in London. Galpin takes photographs of city scenes and then selectively scrapes away the enamel from the top of the picture, creating an abstract shape. But traces of the city remain in the lines left behind.

"I suppose I'm enacting an imaginative regeneration of an area, and constructing new forms," Galpin says, "which are my drawing, my invention, a fantasy, almost like a proposal for something else, but grounded in or based on the city as it is now."

Galpin has been evolving this method for close to ten years. His first works isolated forms and patterns within the urban landscape itself, such as the scaffolding around a building. Since then, his work has become more strongly abstract, imposing new forms on the city.

"I've allowed myself more intervention in the photograph and more subversion of it, playing some visual tricks with the perspective, reversing perspective, making illusory planes within the image, so it's not clear where the image was or where it is," he says. "But the areas of detail really pull you back in."

The abstract, geometric nature of the finished images is strongly suggestive of the modern art movements of the first half of the 20th century. Galpin cites vorticists such as CRW Nevinson and Edward Wadsworth as particular influences, as well as Robert Rauschenberg's 1953 Erased de Kooning Drawing.

The exhibition is at Hales Gallery until 2 May.

top image Free State I

image Free State II, based on a photo of New York

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