Written by Collections Volunteer Emily Young

Inspired exhibition at Stirling University’s Pathfoot University. Cadmium and Light Red is the large canvas in the center of the image. Photo by Julie Howden

Patrick Heron (30 January 1920 – 20 March 1999) was a British abstract and figurative artist, critic and writer.

He was born in Yorkshire on 30th January 1920 but soon moved to Cornwall with his family at age 5 and would spend the majority of his life there. Heron’s initial work as an artist began by designing silk scarves for his father’s company, Cresta Silks, during his teenage years.

Heron was recognized as one of the leading painters of his generation with his early work being strongly influenced by Matisse, Bonnard, Braque and Cezanne, over the years making a significant contribution to the distribution of modernist ideas of painting through his critical writing and his art.

“Heron used that most rare and uncanny of gifts: the ability to invent an imagery that was unmistakably his own, and yet which connects immediately with the natural world as we perceive it and transforms our vision of it. Like those of his acknowledged masters, Braque, Matisse and Bonnard, his paintings are at once evocations and celebrations of the visible, discoveries of what he called “the reality of the eye’” – The Independent, Marc Lopatin (21 Mar 1999) *

 Heron’s artworks are most noted for his exploration and use of colour and light. He is known for both his early figurative work and non-figurative works, which looked to further explore the idea of making all areas of the painting have equal importance. Throughout his career he worked with a variety of mediums, from designing silk scarves at his father’s company to designing a stained-glass window for Tate St Ives, but primarily painting using oils and gouache.

“For a very long time now I have realised that my overriding interest is colour. Colour is both the subject and the means; the form and the content; the image and the meaning in my painting today” – Heron, 1962 **

Patrick Heron’s painting ‘Cadmium and Light Red: January 1967’ is currently on display as the focal point of our Inspired! Exhibition in the Crush Hall, Pathfoot Building. This abstract work is likely to have drawn inspiration from Matisse’s ‘The Red Studio’, which was a significant influence of Heron’s, with the different shades of red used in the painting.  Heron also created several artworks with similarities to ‘Cadmium and Light Red: January 1967’ such as ‘Cadmium with Violet, Scarlet, Emerald, Lemon and Venetian: 1969’ which is part of the Tate collection and ‘Red Painting: 25 July 1963’ which is part of the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland: Modern.

‘Cadmium and Light Red’ was the source of inspiration for the current exhibition display in the University of Stirling Pathfoot Crush Hall, the surrounding artworks being selected due to their creative and unique uses of shape and the colour red.

*“Patrick Heron, abstract painter, dies aged 79”Archived from the original on 4 Jan 2018.



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