Derek Balmer PPRWA

Derek Balmer’s bold and wonderfully exuberant compositions portray landscapes, cities and ancient architecture in a celebration of history and personal experience. Balmer’s vibrant colour palette exudes the warmth, light and energy of the Mediterranean, focusing largely on bright yellows, oranges and reds, and punctuates with a strong use of blue, green, brown and white.

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Where one might expect a landscape to fade out into the horizon, Balmer instead flattens our perspective and draws everything into the foreground; his images seem to have been constructed from the ground upwards in a particularly organic and intuitive manner. In works such as Hill Town, Aegean and Casablanca clusters of houses are stacked like children’s building blocks. Meadows and fields in Highland Harvest and Harvest Festival are layered with brush stroke upon brush stroke in patchworks of colour. In Flying Over – Tuscany we are presented with an aerial view of the Italian countryside in a patterned blanket of rich earthy colours.

Balmer paints largely from memory, allowing the recollection of a particular location to guide his imagination. Continuously reworking shape, line, form and colour his paintings transform and evolve until something independently announces itself. Balmer embraces chance encounters and accidental mark making, this lack of control leading him towards unexpected places and reflecting the nature of travel and the wonder of discovery. The thing that makes Balmer’s intuitive process particularly interesting is his ability to identify and adapt these ‘accidents’ into seemingly naïve, yet highly sophisticated compositions constructed through his astute eye for structure and placement.

Balmer was part of the vibrant Bristol art scene of the Sixties. Besides a successful practice in Fine Art he also developed a career as an art critic and photographer. In 2001 Balmer became the RWA’s eighteenth president, and remained so until 2010. He exhibits extensively across the UK and is currently based in Bristol.

Articles and Reviews

Galleries Magazine, Nicholas Usherwood Nov 2016

Galleries Magazine April 2015

Cornwall Life, Dec 2016

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