Charlie Saul

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Charlie Saul “Clowns for the Common Man” Artist’s Statement
Emerging from a twenty-seven year “self-induced coma” (aka Headship at St. Edward’s RC Primary School, Lees), I have, in my retirement, rediscovered the time and opportunity to rekindle a career which, in the late 1970s, threatened to drag me away from teaching altogether. God works in strange ways, and between 1982 and 2009 my creativity was confined to inspiring wonderful 5-11 year old children to discover a thirst for art. I had the most rewarding job in Oldham, but such were the demands of Headship that my own art was forced into cold storage.

“Clowns for the Common Man” is my series of clown paintings which re-open the box of ideas which has lain dormant for so long. This body of work marks a return to a familiar subject (clowns), portrayed in a style which, even in 1978, was considered distinctive; but now the medium has changed – pen and ink has been replaced by oil on canvas, offering more freedom to ‘attack’ the subject and strike the desired balance between precise, clean-cut lines, and the sort of free-flowing brushwork reminiscent of early Expressionism.
Laced with an inference of narrative, and far-removed from the circus environment, the images offer a stark contrast to the buffoon-like qualities often associated with this comical character. Here the vulnerability and humility of each figure seeps through as the aches, pains and challenges of life are suppressed beneath a façade of ‘calmness personified’. Comedy, tragedy and passion fuse into one, and emotions are hidden beneath expressionless faces, masked by a uniform disguise which becomes as much a signature of the artist’s work as vests, tights and boots ; only body language gives a hint as to the subject’s true emotional state.
“Clowns for the Common Man”; provides a quizzical and engaging re-contextualisation of this universally-recognised figure, one where the ordinary lay-person – the common man – is invited to look through this disguise and perhaps find something of them self, because there are times in all our lives when we choose to hide our real feelings… like clowns !
Charlie Saul.