ART MATTERS: Enzo Marra shines a light on the work of Geoff Hands

Graham Robson February 24, 2022

This month I am going to be talking about an artist who has been resident in the Phoenix Art Space in Brighton since 2019. A painter who I feel you really need to know about, who is following his own path towards producing imagery that rides the boundary of figuration and abstraction without seeming mannered.

Now very much rooted in Brighton, Geoff Hands was born in London, spending much of his childhood in Shropshire where he attended Shrewsbury School of Art. Graduating from West Surrey College of Art & Design in 1979, he then spent a year in Wales before settling in Brighton in 1981, developing a teaching career in Eastbourne, Horsham and Worthing. He is now a tutor at West Dean College near Chichester.

Geoff Hands’ creative approach involving both plein air and studio work executed in both painted and drawn media, as well as forays into collage and printmaking. His dedication to and celebration of painting and drawing giving greater weight to his abstraction. His earlier practice having been more concerned with more literal evocations of landscape and seascape imagery, since 2015 his paintings have developed towards attaining a natural and unmannered abstract resolution. The continuing conversation between artist and painting ensuring that only what needs to be on surface remains.

However abstracted they have gradually become, in making them the immediacy of his applied brush strokes and the vivacity of the hues he utilises, are the results of his continued attempts to link decisions to places and memories of them, both visual and in feeling. The intuitive decisions and chance developments that are an inherent element of the painting process playing their part in how each painting finally resolves. The image developing its own persona in the studio whilst informed by the recalled memories of the landscape, the specifics of the time of day, the shift of light conditions, the weather interacting with tree and grass blade, heard sounds and atmospheres, all contributing to the making of the paintings.

The link between subject and the painterly statement that then results from it, visible in the flowing strokes and dabs that populate each of his lively images. The energy seen in them a reflection on the original stimuli and the quest to then capture the experience of seeing them in a true meaningful manner.

Whether they are seen as paint strokes and marks or as the initial stimuli that inspired the image to be attempted and made visible. His works are authentic and personal to his journey through the world and to his experiences within it.

Having been an exhibiting artist for the last 30 years, Geoff Hands has works included in collections across Europe and in the USA. A regular exhibitor in Brighton, I thoroughly recommend grabbing the chance to take them in when they are hung on wall en masse.

The experience of seeing real paintings on real walls, the best type of medicine to allow us to understand and see the beauty the world can inspire when seen through receptive eyes.

For more info on Geoff Hands, CLICK HERE