Martin Grover


This former student of the famous Royal Academy Schools has consistently produced intriguing and beguiling work. Not being in possession of a sharp or analytical mind, he sticks to his strengths, which lie in observation and anecdote. A playful narrative thread runs through his work, at one moment a little dark and woebegone and the next humourous and whimsical but always alluring.

Working from life, sketches, memory and photographs he reconstructs ephemeral scenes from the passing world. Childhood recollections, minor street incidents, slightly surreal radio traffic bulletins, brief news items, poems, short stories, Brockwell Park landscapes, the enigmatic allure of sheds and shelters are all recalled and captured with clarity and wit. At other times in a more trompe l’oeil (trick of the eye) style he produces very flat still lives of old records in their tattered sleeves and un-coordinated second hand shirt and tie sets.

A recent and continuing series of paintings has used many local views: parks, road junctions and railway viaducts, in which he incorporates loose portraits of some of his favourite singers. Rance Allen, Barry White, Hank Williams, O V Wright, Tyrone Davis, Irma Thomas, Billy Stewart, The Carter Family and Geater Davis roam these melancholic urban landscapes singing their songs of determination, despair and lost love.

His screenprints offer little paeans to iconic traffic signs, bus stops, buses, and to destinations or states of mind reached and those elusive ones so often glimpsed or imagined but always tantilisingly just out of reach.

He admires many artists but he has always been inspired and captivated by illustrators like Bill Robinson, Kenneth Inns, Martin Aitchison, John Berry and Harry Wingfield whose lucid pictures for Ladybird books seem to capture everyday objects and events with a halcyon glow; familiar from childhood these images even now continue to cast a spell.

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