Catalogue piece by Terry Eagleton, 1999 Harry Vince Coulter's extraordinary landscape paintings ... shimmer with an intensity hard to miss among the muted cautious colours of much contemporary Irish landscape painting. Vince Coulter is English in background, a former habitue of Cornish coasts, London art schools and the fervid world of 60s cultural politics: but these swirling, shifting, exuberant creations could, in his own view, have sprung only from the spiritual geography of Ireland. (His) depictions of English landscape have a harder, sharper edge to them, as befits what he sees as a more static scenario; these Irish landscapes, by contrast, are all about flux, dyanism, deliquescence, as jagged coast and solid rock are recomposed in the more merging, soluble media of water and air. This is not a question of 'abstraction'. If Vince Coulter is a modernist, he is one only in a generous, non-doctrinaire sense of the term. Indeed, these fractured, pulsating paintings are, in his own opinion, perfectly realist. These are real places he has lived among, but ones which have been decomposed and reassembled according to an imaginative rather than material logic. actual space plays a part in these marvellous reinventions, but it is space which has been wrenched apart and relayered, restacked from the horizontal the the vertical, scattered into different pockets, levels and cross-currents. Horizons are scrubbed out, or multiplied and the usual laws of perspective put into suspense, so that we move in a space which appears to face every way at once, and which, like some close-spun textile seems at once dense and infinitely stretchable. This vivid, irregular stuff then spills out over the frame and laps from one canvas to another, so that each painting seems like a snapshot of a potentially limitless process. Here, indeed, lies the 'realism' of Vince Coulter's art, since the Irish landscapes he portrays are unbounded in their continual play of light, sea and cloud. Since their reality is ceaseless change, only this diffuse, perpetually moblile art can be faithful to it. In a sense, it is the weather he is painting, not the scenery. Though the regions (he) shapes are starkly unpopulated, the human can always be sensed in the intense activism of his craft. In fact (he) is an activist in more senses than one. A few decades back (he) was producing public art for British revolutionary politics and is still involved in political life. But it is Stalinism, not socialism, which restricts politically charged art to a dreary naturalism. Bertolt Brecht, by contrast, recognised that the revolutionary artist needed to deconstruct the world if others were to change it. Harry Vince Coulter's painting is politically significant in exactly this sense - just as there is political meaning in the deliberate daylight it puts between itself and the postmodern art industry. Landscape, lyricism, large-sized canvases, boldly glowing colours: these things may not be exactly a la mode in the art world today. But Vince Coulter works out of an English landscape tradition which has survived through the bleakest artistic times, and his splendid work resonates with a fresh spirit. Terry Eagleton was Walton Professor of English at Oxford University, is the author of many works of cultural criticism, plays and other work. He currently teaches at the University of Manchester.
Biography: Born: Southall, Middlesex, West London, 1948 1965-66 Twickenham College of Technology, Middlesex 1966-70 Chelsea School of Art (now part of University of the Arts, London) 1970-71 Hornsey College of Art (now part of Middlesex University) 1977-78 National College of Art and Design, Dublin More Recent Group Shows 1998 North West Artists, Sligo Art Gallery 1999 Eigse Carlow 1999 North West Artists, Sligo Art Gallery 2000 North West Artists, Sligo Art Gallery 2003 Summer Show, Hallward Gallery, Dublin 2004 Mayo General Hospital 2005 The Grafton Suite, Dublin 2007 Recent Aquisitions, Greyfriars Municipal Gallery, Waterford Two-Person Shows with Kate McDonagh 2002 Dun Aimhairgin Gallery, Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht, Dublin 2004 Bank of Ireland Arts Centre, Dublin One Person Shows 1999 Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely, County Wicklow 1999 Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, County Mayo 2000 The Space, St Paul's Arts Trust, London 2000 The Bar Council, Dublin 2001 Signal Arts Centre, Bray 2001 Wexford Arts Centre 2001 Mullingar Arts Centre 2004 Hanley's @ The Bar Restaurant, Dublin 2005 Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford Awards 2000 Arts Council/Aer Lingus Travel Award Residencies 2006 Cill Rialaig Arts Project, Kerry
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