Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

John Hacker – Untitled

John Hacker: balancing light and shade

Peering through the Hastings Arts Forum window at the John Hacker exhibition you could be forgiven for thinking that the pictures inside are a little brown, a little gloomy. That is what HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths’ first impressions were. Luckily, they were far from the truth; the show portrayed a very different story.

Many of the pictures are very small. Many are pencil drawings, some are monotone, others gently, pale watercolour; tender and almost fleeting in their depiction. It was the perfect day for viewing – grey, raining and cold – but in the gallery it was a meditation of water, shadow and light. I found it really uplifting. Some seemed so fleetingly temporary it is a miracle the artist managed to catch that moment.

light-waveThere are a few little pencil drawings near the desk that have a haunting quality – ephemeral like light, like dreams; they seem as if they are there and then they’re gone. Like so many things today they are not solid, nor definite, images that can be grasped and fully explained, these are left to your imagination, observation and experience.

Temporary and fleeting, to many passers-by. They might be regarded as inconsequential, things that get missed in the every-day. But light on water, shadows drifting through the fading light of day, wind rustling through long grass, riffles across water, sun on fields, are, to others, what makes a day.

Hacker does not help or lead you much with picture titles – and, sadly, he is no longer here to enlighten us. Many are seemingly abstract, but look in to the pictures, get lost in them and add your own observations to see what you see.

john-hacker3He adds some titles and leaves some untitled. Shadow Wing looks like the patina of old wood grain – a life and story lived. Fleet Shadows is a tender little painting of shadows across the sunlight in a field, it has an old-fashioned feel leading you in to rest, relax and daydream. January, drawn in indefinite pencil shapes, has a Japanese quality to it; perhaps because of its rectangular, elongated shape, it appears as if you are looking down and through a landscape. Another one, alongside, looks like a curl of wind.

It is a really refreshing exhibition. I particularly love water, shadows, the play of light and wind. A sense of whispers around the gallery.

His working practice can be seen in his sketchbooks, with remarkable insights for any artist to be found amongst his copious notes and sketches. Apparently, one of his favoured starting-points was with the I Ching and the Book of Changes.

He has said of his work: “Although my work appears abstract I paint what I see in the wooded Sussex landscape near my studio. I’m interested in the balance and imbalance of light and the changing patterns and energies I see through the day and seasons, and how this affects colour – in the winter months the intensity of light is at its lowest, by midsummer it has reached its peak. Often there is tension, sometimes resolution.”

It is sad that this is his first, and last, solo exhibition. But no less valuable for it, even if it is a little late in the day. With the day fading and shadows falling. John Hacker RIP.

There are many original pictures, and some prints, for sale.

Exhibition is on at Hastings Arts Forum, Marina, St Leonards on Sea, TN38 0BU until Sunday 4 February. Open Tuesday- Sunday 11am-5pm.
Please note the gallery is closed for a private event on Saturday 27 January.


Posted 18:08 Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018 In: Visual Arts

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