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The Big Sky Gallery, Usk, Monmouthshire
Signed & dated 1964 lower left
73cm x 25cm
£ 2,395.00Enlarge Image
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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art; this original watercolour by Roger Cecil dated 1964.
The work is presented and supplied in a sympathetic contemporary frame, mounted using conservation materials and behind non-reflective glass.
Previously with the Howard Roberts Gallery, Cardiff.
Roger Cecil was a reclusive painter, draughtsman and teacher who was born in Abertillery, Monmouthshire in 1942. He lived and worked in Wales for the last four decades of his life, much of it in the house where he was born and brought up.
Cecil produced abstract work rich in imagery, poetry and colour, which were drawn from his environment, the industrial valley towns and mountains. Prolific and obsessive, he was always a solitary artist, with no affiliations to any group or artistic movement.
He worked for more than forty years, with an ever-evolving and prolific creative output. His pictures capture the geology and the history of the places he knew so intimately, and the impact of man of that environment.
Cecil studied Fine Art at Newport College of Art from 1959 to 1963, where his teachers included John Wright and Thomas Rathmell; in 1963 he gained the College’s highest award in the national diploma in design and a place at the Royal College London. In 1964 he won the David Murray Landscape Award from the RA. He took up his place at the Royal College of Art, but after just a few weeks he was unsatisfied and instead took up manual work in opencast mines and building sites.
Cecil later spent some time teaching at Ebbw Vale. From 1995 to 1998 he did his MA, which he gained with distinction in communication design at St. Martin’s College of Art.
The BBC made a television documentary on Cecil's work called The Gentle Rebel.
For a long time Cecil did not exhibit, through choice, and it was friends who helped to promote him. He then had a series of exhibitions at Business Art Galleries from 1987, and in 1995 the Hill Court Gallery, Abergavenny, held a retrospective of his work. In 1998 Gordon Hepworth and Y Tabernacl both showed Cecil's pictures.
Cecil’s works were also shown at the Oriel Myrddin Gallery in 2006 and 20011. The small book which takes the name of the earlier exhibition ”Cariad”; has an introduction by gallery manager Meg Anthony which states;
“The magic of Roger Cecil’s work is in part down to the man, for he is enigmatic and surprising, diffident and proud. He has deliberately avoided the art establishment, remaining shy of its protocol and systems of exposure and recognition. He has consciously created the space to pursue his art, away from the pressures of publicity and celebrity...... paint is Roger’s passion.”
Cecil’s methods were complex; he worked with a mixture of materials, including oil pastels, sandpaper, primer and plaster. He built up layers and then he rubbed and scratched them away. His work is textured and nuanced, and the colour reverberates as if it has a life of its own. The paintings are abstract, but there are echoes of monumental shapes and undulations of the female form, the Valleys - the dark hills embracing the bowls of space and the rich, gritty textures of the industrial and post-industrial landscape, highlighted by intricate, personal marks.
Sarah Bradford states:
“Scale is an important feature of Roger Cecil’s work; he constantly shifts from near and the far off. He also moves his viewpoint from looking at, to looking down on to. This looking down, as though a bird, onto the world of the painting, comes from exploration of his surroundings and from the ordinance survey maps he takes with him when he walks. He has often said how he is inspired by the language of symbols and lines that are used in maps to delineate the landscape. It is easy to see the connection when looking at the networks of invented footpaths, waterways, and other pin point features that can be found in his work.” …
Mary Lloyd Jones visited Cecil’s studio and reported that
“Visiting the artists house and studio seemed like entering a tardis; a magical treasure house, a labyrinth of small rooms with interconnecting corridors stretching seemingly without end. This was the work place of a committed artist, inventive and skillful craftsman who has maintained a playful and adventurous attitude to the nevertheless serious business of making art.”
It has been said that the detail of his paintings was like his private language. He hesitated from imposing his meaning on anyone else, preferring others to come to his work in their own way and on their terms.
There is something very quiet, insistent and challenging about Roger Cecil’s work. The elusive nature of his abstract imagery – where colour, texture, form and space rub against each other – seems to be echoed in the quiet but deliberate character of the man.
In the mature years of his career, and despite a well earned reputation as one of Wales’ most accomplished artists, Cecil continued to push his practice and develop his work. He remained a very private and modest man, and certainly a reluctant hero.
Roger Cecil was found dead by the roadside in Cwmbran on 21st February 2015 after a hospital stay in Newport.
This expansive watercolour depicts a landscape with minimal detail. There is a line of black trees standing proud against the skyline, two of them with wide branches, others barely twigs in the ground. The terrain in the foreground is brown and barren, with narrow strips of pale green and yellow above. The mood is calm and reflective.