Gustavius Payne is a Welsh figurative artist, born and living in Merthyr Tydfil. Elected to the Welsh Group in 2013 (and chair in 2018), his figurative paintings use nature, animals, birds and trees, alongside hoodies, mobile phones, religious iconography and other human constructs. His diverse imagery draws from mythology and folk-lore, alongside ecological and political concerns, drawing the viewer into a fascinating reflective world, set in the post-industrial Welsh Valleys.
The exhibition’s title draw’s reference to the memories of a child’s youthful innocence, coloured with a particular set of cultural values.
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“These paintings use references from myth, fairy-tale folklore, religion and our shared history. There are familiar stories and symbols which can be navigated; and archetypes which trigger more primitive emotional responses. His special potent magic is his ability to initiate a chain reaction of allusions and ideas and then to pull us through a series of uncomfortable emotions.
“He is aware of the tension and potential contradiction between these strong intellectual and intuitive elements, but his linkage of the universal with the intrinsically personal gives the work an unusual degree of commitment and intensity.
“The contemporary references in many of the paintings show an artist much concerned with the society around him – where it has come from and where it is going. This can give the work sharp satirical bite. The world he paints is both recognisably modern and timeless. There is tenderness and violence. There is mercy and despair, love and shame. Beauty and the Beast.”