Michael Gough

(1932 - 2009)


One Man's Landscape

A small selection of Michael's work to be featured in the exhibition is shown on this page.

All are oils on board or canvas and are framed.

There will also be a number of watercolour/mixed media works on paper in the exhibition. These are all mounted and framed under glass.





The sensitive light-filled landscape paintings of Michael Gough contain that subtle English poetry born of a meditative approach to, and intimate appreciation of, nature. But they also contain something more - a formal toughness to balance and complement tranquility. And by toughness one means a thorough grappling with the given flatness of pictorial surface as an inevitable, physical and concrete foil to illusionist conceits, graphic subterfuge and imaginative musing.

   In specific terms paintings like the 'Hill Farm' series, 'Tanners Lane', 'Cracks in the Wall' and the aptly named 'Sunlight', with their high horizon lines, empty yet delicately nuanced yellow foregrounds and sense of gently tilted topographic perspective carry that vital tension between abstract concretion and the illusion of spatial depth that is the hallmark of not only post-cubist but indeed all modern painting since Cezanne. Gough's avowed love of Matisse, however, is implicit rather than directly stated in terms of outward style. And if such an influence is less immediately apparent in Gough than in Matisse-inspired post-war masters like the Russian-born French painter de Stael, the American Diebenkorn or, closer to home, in the English painters Keith Vaughan and Roger Hilton, then it does not alter Gough's fundamental allegiance to the integrity of the painted mark as an existential fact functioning both as an independent visual symbol and as a space-defining feature that gives art its magical and transformative appeal.

   Consistent with a discrete handling of form and material Gough's output is modest but of high quality. His long and distinguished teaching career first at a private school at Silcot in north Somerset then in a small art school at Brockenhurst in the New Forest and finally as Vice Principal of Bournemouth College of Art  - where he taught for 30 years - restricted his artistic output. Not ego-driven, Gough's practice as a painter was perhaps subordinate to his services to art education. His love of young people made him an open, inclusive, unprejudiced and, by implication, sympathetic teacher. But during vacations and after retirement Gough produced work in response to those locations - the New Forest near his Sway home, the Peak District and north Wales - that most inspired him.

   Such locations amply furnished him with the motif that perhaps most moved him - the spectacle of light through trees. And if such phenomena provide fugitive and elusive then his capturing the experience sparked a novel set of chunky, stylised spaces in which photographic or pre-Raphaelite detail was sacrificed for an altogether more summarising and tangible treatment. Like the modern Scottish painter William Gear Gough turned what the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins called the glory of "dappled things" to a cogent patterned manner through which he achieved plastic analogies for the gentle rhythms of natural light.

   Gough's approach was to make preliminary in situ sketches and to take photographs from which he worked up studio paintings in oil or acrylic. This well-informed painter's command of art history added another string to his formidable teaching bow while also leading to his knowing his place in the artistic pantheon. This kept his feet firmly on the conceptual and iconographic ground enhancing rather than diminishing his integral individuality.

PETER DAVIES  January 2012



Orange Fields                                                             30 x 18 ins.


Wilverley                                                                   46 x 22 ins.