ABOUT PETER WELFORD

My work is chiefly concerned with subjects of an allegorical or metaphorical nature and includes a number of vanitas and metaphysical paintings. Symbolism infuses my work. As there are, technically, many layers and complexities to each painting, so there are layers of meaning; and thus, for the viewer, different levels of comprehension. Aesthetic harmony and a conscious technical precision are juxtaposed with subjects of a psychological and philosophical intensity; and thereby conflicts are set up: an harmonious choreography of discord; the ambiguity of certainty. My work is intended as a mirror: a commentary on the moving shape of reality; and a contemplation on the fallibility of Man in an infallible world.

Over the past three decades I have made a careful study of the traditional workshop practices of Old Master painting, particularly those of the early Flemish and German schools. As a consequence, I have acquired a detailed knowledge of the techniques, materials and processes of fifteenth - and early sixteenth-century Northern Renaissance painting, a technical vocabulary long overlooked. The extraordinary technical possibilities of this demanding medium - oil and egg tempera, applied onto gessoed panels and built up painstakingly in layers - produces a finely-finished surface where brushstrokes are eliminated; colours achieve a glowing inner depth through the refraction and reflection of light. My interest in technique is, however, not born out of nostalgia; nor am I concerned with imitating past styles. Instead, I deliberately employ this archaic technical language to express my view of contemporary reality: the world I observe around me, and to which I belong.

Although my paintings are representational, my art has nothing to do with realism. Rather, I attempt to construct a parallel, dream-like world from taken nature, forming a collage of the components of observed reality. I thereby create a virtual world in which my allegories and commentaries are those of idealised beauty, yet charged with psychological tension. The harmony of colouring and a seductive technical finish are designed to counter the unsettling subject matter. Traditional and even biblical themes are addressed anew to examine their relevance to a world of material dependence and spiritual confusion.


'Peter Welford intends his art to be seen as a mirror. If its reflection is not always palatable, so be it. These paintings are not comforting salon pictures, but rather meant as a form of journalism. Their themes are provocative and sometimes political, not soliloquies but dialogues with the viewer. The allegorical nature of many of the subjects, and the veiled symbolism which lies within each painting, makes that dialogue the more rewarding. The more one looks, the more one finds.'

Sir Simon Jenkins

 

Peter Welford was born in London in 1964. He studied History of Art and Conservation at the universities of Manchester and London (Courtauld Institute of Art), where he lectured briefly.  He is a full-time artist living and working in the Conwy Valley.


Peter Welford's paintings hang in many collections in Britain, Europe and beyond. Since 2007 he has taken part in regular group shows, as well as two solo exhibitions ('The Triumph of Folly' and 'Unstill Lives'), all at the Albemarle Gallery, London. His work has also been shown at Art London and the London Art Fair.


In Wales, his work was featured in the 2009 exhibition 'Masterworks of Contemporary Welsh Art,' held at MOMA Wales, and last year at the RCA ('By Invitation.') His most recent solo exhibition, 'Dialogues', was shown at Oriel Theatre Clwyd, Mold, and ended on 9th June 2018.


In addition to his paintings, Welford has provided the linocut illustrations for the Gwydir Press, a fine-edition letter press set up in 2013. He has illustrated two published books, 'Pwyll, Prince of Dyved', from the early Welsh Mabinogion corpus, and 'A Letter From Wales,' by Cynan Jones, winner of the 2017 BBC Short Story Award. In addition, illustrations for a further book (Sir Walter Scott's 'A Tapestried Chamber') are also currently underway.


Peter Welford was made a Royal Cambrian Academician in June 2018.

 

To watch a short documentary about the artist please click on the image below.