Des Hannigan. August 2009 

The best painters have a unique map upon which they work, a ghost on the canvas before a mark is even made and before the subject of the painting begins to take form. For Matthew Lanyon, that map is West Cornwall with its compass of iconic locators and their relationship with the sun, moon, stars and sea; the pressure points of Godrevy, Land's End, Portreath and St Michael's Mount; the axis of sunrise over Godolphin, the high horizon of Carnmenellis Hill, the outflung arm of The Lizard. All whirl through the pinpoints of the Cornish compass, in a kaleidoscope of topographical, cultural and familial references.

Godrevy LXVl

In this latest collection Lanyon adds to his series of Godrevy paintings, here represented particularly by Godrevy LXVII, a classic Lanyon that brims with confident form and luminous colour. A lighter touch emerges in Bosigran's Girl, lithe and loveable in its clean, confident lines and more subdued tonality.

Bosigran's Girl

Yet, once again, as in previous collections, Lanyon strikes out from Cornwall, taking his iconic map with him. The collection reflects adventures that embrace such images as the fabulous White Horse of Uffington, an Iron Age flourish in the chalk skin of the Berkshire Downs that defies explanation because of its timeless modernity of form and line. The White Horse, in reality, is 374 feet long. Lanyon has settled for a boat-sized painting of 22 feet that embeds the shape of the White Horse amidst a landscape of surreal yet recognisable motifs. He takes Cornwall and the White Horse with him to the Lake District too, and imprints a far smaller image of the Horse, this time into Armboth Fell, a quintessential Lanyon painting in which, once again, exhilarating form and colour overwhelms the viewer with affirmation and with those ever present Cornish references.

White Horse

This latest Lanyon collection brims with light and promise. The paintings, from the arm-stretching White Horse to the almost fragile delicacy of a hand-sized Godrevy LXIII, cross reference with ease; the beautiful Madonna reflects Bosigran's Girl; the vivid Porthleven and Porthleven Storm connect, not simply by name, but through the compelling iconography that is the keynote of this collection and that is now reinforced by a boundless recreative spirit.

Des Hannigan August 2009


Porthleven     Big Top         Armboth Fell


Soliloquy '09


...this excellence, words intoned
half-heard between your lines
...made bread...

and while we're running
up the last bit of this hill
‘ catch a landscape by surprise'

the old impossible un-
the un- we have to keep on keeping-on
un-contradict, un-knowing…

flowing the un-flowing through the all
on out the back, only to flood right back
in again, flood right up, at us

between the eyes
up on its hinds
an' we're gonna…

we're gonna need those gills
dammit, dropped off
somewhere in the womb…

when it doesn't matter any more
only more to give…

the soft buzz of
the downright

sunlight coming through water
almond blossom…that sound
oranges make while they're growing…

you know, happy, out of fashion
this is happy, meet happy…
like she was always meant to be

then you go one more step and
say as much because it's coming
out your ears, between those lines…

and in the next breath you just have to
re-invent the periodic table of the elements
to include her, and with her, this time…

madonna lV
oil on board
43 x 12 inches

...essential's list just got bigger
to include the first three laws of
absolute seduction…

every movement
every moment
every meaning of her existence…

and now you're wondrin' what's the catch?
what's he...on?
where's, the sting?

and you try to keep quiet about it but
you can't, you go and spill the magic
to a lesser god of speech

and now you can't live without it
and because of this, or
just because , you already know

and when you give it to the old people
they'll live forever splitting their sides
and you're not sure you want

anyone to have to do that
because you already know quite a few of
the new people

and they're even better than you
ever, ever

and by now
you're in tears
with it…, are you gonna do..?
now it feels like you can only spill it
like a kid with a big jug

an' you gotta stop
because there's no more flour and

you already burned
two loaves, already
this morning…

Matthew Lanyon January 2009



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