Geoffrey Key ‘GOTH’ Book by Nick Brown OBE
Geoffrey Key ‘GOTH’ Book published 2023, 80 Pages – Softcover, with detachable gloss laminated dust jacket, fully illustrated – Limited to only 500 Copies
Size: 27.4 x 21.4cm
THE BOOK CAN BE COLLECTED IN THE GALLERY FROM THE 28th OCTOBER 2023 AND IS PRICED AT £20
(CAN BE PURCHASED ON THE WEBSITE FOR £25 INC SHIPPING)
Genesis of a strange, rich world
Perhaps we should not be surprised at the way Geoffrey Key continues to astonish us; however, there is certainly something very different about the Goth series. Something immediately apparent at even the most cursory initial glimpse.
Such a snatched vision reveals a darker, more sombre tone from the one to which we have become accustomed but is counterpointed by splashes of some of the brightest colour Geoffrey has employed. The effect is instantly captivating and highly distinctive. This is indeed something rich and new.
A longer more considered look does nothing to diminish this first optical blast, rather it detects considerable depths and reference points to some of Key’s earlier major series. To understand the genesis of this series we need to look back to a chance encounter Geoffrey experienced while inspecting the contents of an Antiques Fair in Derby.
Looking up from the exhibits he caught a glance of a startlingly elegant figure dressed in an antique-looking, full Goth outfit. The striking figure awoke a series of images stored in his imagination and by the time he was back home the seeds of a painting were gathering in his mind.
But there was a problem. As Geoffrey said later,
‘“I realised I wouldn’t be able to capture the images I was seeing through painting the way I was at the time.”
After worrying at this for several days he realised the problem concerned tone and to solve it he revisited the darker tone he’d employed when being taught by Harry Rutherford. If he could combine this with his mastery of vivid colour then not only could he bring to life his Goth painting but also create something new.
Once the brush caressed the canvas, he knew the days of struggling with the issue of colour and tone had been worthwhile. Whilst this first Goth was being brought to life there was no concept of a series. This only came into existence as the first canvas was approaching completion. Then, as is always the case with Geoffrey’s work, the completion of one canvas suggested the nature of the next and so on until all he had to say about Goth had been said.
Perhaps this is particularly true of the Goth series, it feels like the consummation of unfinished business, almost as if it provides a fitting to climax to his major series on: Clowns, Jesters and Commedia delle’arte. To look back across all four series together is to recognise the integrity of a monumental body of work, constantly evolving over the decades.
The intention behind Goth was not to paint any particular interpretation of Gothic history or tradition. Rather it was to give life to a series of striking images once seen and then stored in memory. As paintings they have mutated into a fresh life, summoned by the artist’s singular imagination.
This collection of twenty- five works combining both oils and works on paper are some of the most acutely felt and vivid works Geoffrey has produced and comprise a magnificent late flowering of talent.
Although the artist has produced a book to record the integrity of the series for posterity, this exhibition will be the only opportunity to actually experience the almost visceral sensation of coming face to face with the vibrant Goth paintings. An existential pleasure as soon they will be snatched up by collectors and dispersed to the four winds.
Nick Brown OBE, FRSA, AW