Acclaimed painter, Iain Faulkner, continues his enquiry into the expressive potential of the solitary male figure. Whether located in a luxurious international hotel room or the rugged landscape of his native Scotland, his technically-accomplished compositions evoke a sense of contained isolation and brooding introspection.
These are not melodramatic poses, but everyday and almost mundane. The subject is caught at a point of rest and contemplation. He gazes out across the land or city-scape, he looks down at his shoes, he nurses a whisky glass. We very rarely glimpse his face, for he is consistently turned away from us. We view the world over his shoulder, seeing what he sees, but he remains elusive, his identity closed off and secret.
In fact the man in these paintings is the artist. They are self-portraits. Interestingly, the images are not self-examining; he avoids the interrogation of his own appearance. He makes himself an ‘everyman’, a witness at hand to record events, to say, perhaps, “I was there”. The paintings are partly records of his own wanderings.
Faulkner’s painstakingly-thorough method of representation locks our attention down to the subject. He is clear-eyed in showing us a scenario. However, some new paintings show an interesting development in technique, a departure from the clearly-articulated realism that is his familiar signature. He deploys a softer, more diffuse, application of waxy paint. Contours and outlines are blurred and heightened, colour shimmers and pulses. The pictures take on an ethereal quality, fading or un-focussing before our eyes and a shifting uncertainty of perception enters the stage. In one painting he looks out at us, full face at last, his features lit by a fierce red glow, a moment of sudden un-masking.
There is a sense of isolation and apartness in Iain Faulkner’s work, which chimes well with uncertain times. Alone, in an apparently deserted world, his protagonist plans a strategy.