Richard Ballinger’s recent landscape paintings explore the theme of solace, but from the memories of a child’s perspective. Although made in Cornwall, where Ballinger has lived and worked since 1999, and occasionally informed by drawings, his series of exotically coloured, beautiful landscapes are symbolic meditations on formative experiences of a happy, carefree childhood in idyllic, rural Gloucestershire. In earlier works he painted lonely figures in the landscape. But in his more recent paintings the figures inside the painting have been replaced by the viewer standing in Front of the image. This avoids an overly determined narrative interpretation and encourages imaginative engagement ... A protective wall of trees stretches across the foreground, beyond which a thin white line or path draws the eye up the picture plane towards ... the horizon. Perhaps like the artist as a child, we are taking refuge behind the trees, contemplating whether or not we dare to take the path into the unknown?
Ballinger’s images, constructed with often thick impasto paint, interlocking shapes or blocks of colour, nod to the symbolic style of ...post-impressionist painters as Paul Gauguin. His varied treatment of the painted surface, from meticulous application of small brushstrokes to vigorous scraping away and scoring, evidences the painting process over time. On one level, then, happy memories of childhood freedoms — a time spent roaming the countryside seeking adventure and taking risks — might be seen as a perfect metaphor for the explorative act of painting itself.
“I do not draw in the landscape, I draw from it. It’s taken inside me to the studio imagining how it should be... It's Fun for me making up relative scenarios about my life which will automatically create the right picture for me. Photographs, newspaper articles and books will sometimes help the process. Sometimes if the images are not right, a deconstruction will then take place. This is my favourite part of the journey — the shifting, sanding and scraping of paint, unearthing a brief history.”