It is not often that an exhibition of still life images can give you a sense of vertigo, but Gus Cummins’ work is wonderfully kinetic and simply refuses to stay still.
There is no immediate focal point with these paintings The eye is drawn everywhere following a curve here, the geometry of a shadow there.
Shapes possess perfect perspective and precision yet are alive. A drum plays itself, a tractor ploughs through a field of obscure, yet strangely familiar objects.
Many objects appear to be suspended in space, in fields of their own gravity - curved arrows point to nowhere.
The work is like a fairytale that exists outside of any time, context or cultural reference.
As Gus says: “The eye makes leaps and assumptions, filling in what isn’t there.”
The Jerwood exhibition includes large pieces and rarely seen work, including the piece ‘Off The Wall’, from which it takes its title.
This dramatic piece sees Gus breaking away from the flat surface to what he describes as ‘two and a half dimensional work’.
Gus has lived and created in Hastings for 40 years and although a member of the Royal Academy and of the UK’s longest-running and most prestigious artists’ collective, The London Group, his work is rarely seen, in exhibition form, locally.
It is telling that I have known Gus for 30 years as a quiet man I bump into in an Old Town pub or at a local music performance, but did not know him as an artist.
The Jerwood exhibition was a total revelation, like stepping into another world, discovering a different way of looking and feeling.
The energy of these creations had a physical as well as visual effect.
Walk close and you can see the course detail of every mark or brush stroke. Step back and the work explodes in all directions, unceasing movement that still manages to retain cohesion.
While the big pieces are powerful, the exhibition also includes preparatory drawings and a wonderful black and white photo of Gus, taken by Linda McCartney, which have their own magic.
The last words must go to Gus himself, who sums up the essence of his work better than I possibly could. “I am interested in visual poetry,” he says.