To roam the city, waiting for inspiration to strike, has been a tactic of artists for centuries. From Vermeer to Lowry, the stimulation of the street has led to the creation of astounding works of art.
Long-time favourite of Mall Galleries, Pete ‘the Street’ Brown, is no exception. This all-weather painter of street scenes and city landscapes is rarely to be found in his studio; he prefers the bustling pavements of Britain’s cities, particularly those of his hometown, Bath.
Brown’s post-impressionist works capture the mood of both observer and observed, with compositions like The Old Bailey, which treat quotidian scenes and reveal a keen eye for architecture. This architectural awareness led Brown to appear in various programmes for the BBC, including ‘A Sense of Place’, ‘A Picture of Bath’, and ‘Inside Out’.
Although Brown’s paintings evoke a confident quietude, their production is often anything but. The artist is famous for setting up his easel in extreme weather conditions, and the substitution of studio for street has led to his being the victim of crime on more than one occasion.
Viewed in this context, each work not only represents a unique moment, but has actively participated in it; snow has dappled canvases; the breeze that caused painted flags to flutter stirred the paint brushes in their pot. This unusual degree of interaction between artist, art, and environment lends a further uniqueness to Brown’s paintings.
A selection of the artist’s work is currently on exhibition in Mall Galleries’ reception space, with Russell Square, From Above Smallcome, Dublin Keg Deliveries, and The Double Bass all on display for public view. These are works in oil, but Brown also uses pastels and charcoal.
It is a captivating selection, supplying a small snapshot of Peter Brown’s comprehensive skills in presenting and sharing the enduring stimulation of the street.