Mia L considers local artist Ian Probert’s recent show at the Arts Forum

Ian Probert’s debut show is something of a sombre affair, as its succinct title suggests. Probert uses watercolour, to immortalise a plethora of counter culture icons, each of whom are now sadly deceased.

His muses defy genre and era, captured forever on paper, in purposeful and often strangely familiar poses. It’s hard not to be moved by the visual interpretation of some of our most beloved stars, given one’s knowledge of their eventual fate.

I was lucky enough to have a chat with the artist,while he was installing the show,at Hastings Arts Forum. We spoke about his earlier life as a writer, back in London and how the collapse of his marriage had led him to Hastings some months earlier. He offered to give me a ‘tour’ of the paintings on display, as we mutually reflected on the tragic theme.

It’s hard to believe that Probert hadn’t painted for some 30 years, prior to this show. It seems the unfortunate breakdown of his own personal life led to a wider contemplation on grief, loss and vicissitude. Somehow, amidst this immense sense of anguish, Probert found solace in his old art form, the culmination of which is ‘Dead’,

Indeed, Probert makes a literal visual link to the latter, with the wry inclusion of his own portrait, at the end of the show. By aligning himself with the near mythical image of celebrity, he evokes a beguiling sense of intimacy in the viewer.

The superior quality and technique of his work alleviates this exhibition far beyond the salacious subject matter, leaving a genuine sense of resonance with the audience.

Ian Probert ‘Dead’ ran from 11th June – 23rd June 2019 at Hastings Arts Forum

You can find out more about future exhibitions via the gallery website – www.hastingsartsforum.co.uk

See more of Ian’s watercolours here or check out his recently redesigned website.

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