The artist Paul Gildea, who lives near Brixton, South London, has two exhibitions a year, when he has an artist's open house, usually in June and again just before Christmas.
This year I was excited to see his new work, and in fact was so pleased with the new oil paintings that I decided to buy one!
There were several I particularly liked, but came home with a view of Cromer Pier, in Norfolk. This is a lovely thing, lots of creamy whites and blues with a touch of red, and pale purple mass on the right hand side - the painting is not exactly figurative and not, in the usually accepted term, an abstract. I know Paul paints en plein air and visits Norfolk every summer.
His beach paintings are very collectable. In this exhibition he had paintings of Clapham Common, and Herne Hill cycle track amongst others.
The largest painting, which he said can only be moved with difficulty from his studio to transport it on the roof rack of the car, is entitled The Night Watch. He told us that this large group portrait has as its subject several young men - of West Indian families - who live in and around Brixton. They posed for him in his studio, sometimes coming in a group and sitting down while one of them was being painted. They are a bit on the wild side - to put it mildly!
Sometimes the lads come round and ask to show the painting to their friends, apparently turning up well after Paul's bedtime!
The title is a reflection on the well-known Rembrandt, and the young men are posed in a similar way, with hands in similar gestures.