“Unlike the light, aerated surfaces of Matisse, Bramham’s paint is thick, resinous, sensuously clotted”
Sebastian Smee, Christopher Bramham – New Work
This Saturday’s FT alerted me to a new exhibition of works by Christopher Bramham opening today, “Will the London painters – Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, working directly from life on obsessively recurring motifs, leave any heirs?“
Bramham certainly is obsessive about his subjects – his paintings are mostly of his studio and his garden in Cornwall, but you get a sense of real love of his environment and surroundings. I’m not sure how I would have felt if I had been Freud’s mother but you get less of a sense of empathy with Freud.
But like the London painters, Bramham is liberal with his paint. As Sebastian Smee describes in the helpful and beautifully produced exhibition catalogue Bramham adopts a generous, tactile, sculptural Van Gogh type approach to the use of his thick, creamy paints. He uses colour very effectively – some 90% is Hammershøi grey – which has the effect of bringing the whole painting together – the artist’s equivalent of the cook’s approach to harmonising a dish – see Leonardo da Vinci’s suggestion of serving mutton flavoured with the herbs on which the sheep were grazing.
And he has a strong sense of shape and composition – this is especially in evidence in my favourite painting of this collection – one of an old cooker. The unexpected subject matter gives an edge but the strong lines of the plants and logs surrounding it supply an abstract quality. It’s a small painting with soft colours… not too expensive. Very tempting!
Also tempting are the lemon paintings – every lemon Bramham paints entices the watcher to squeeze and inhale. Just looking carefully at them has inspired me to post on this easy lemon pie…not even a sojourn in an oven required. Ideally I use McVitie’s Ginger Nuts for the base, but they’ve been impossible to source for the last few months due to a flood at the factory in Carlisle. The flood occurred on 5 December 2015 at Europe’s second largest biscuit factory. Now production has resumed and they are once again available.
The exhibition opens today and is on until the end of the month: Jonathan Clark Fine Art
This is a very easy lemon pie
- 120ml/½ cup condensed milk
- 300m//1¼ cups double cream
- 1 medium lemon, zest and juice
- 200g/7 oz ginger biscuits (put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin)
- 3 walnuts of butter
- sugar coffee crystals, vanilla bean dusting powder, or demerara sugar
- melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the biscuit crumbs
- press into a greased pie dish
- whip the cream and add the condensed milk and the lemon juice
- set in the fridge for two or three hours
- garnish with the zest, and sprinkle with the sugar