Dominic Burkhalter: Liverpool in a New Light

View Two Gallery, Mathew Street, Liverpool
Till 17th October 2015
Open: Fridays/Saturdays 12-5pm

Reviewed by Ashley McGovern

Dominic Burkhalter, a former computer graphics developer now turned landscape artist, is clearly riveted by Liverpool’s iconic skyline and the tides of the Mersey. This new exhibition at Mathew Street’s View Two gallery shows he’s swapped the world of pixels for pigment and reveals a sensitive appreciation for the light that wraps around our proud, historic waterfront.

Thirteen small sized canvases, like notebook leaves drenched by the outdoors, depict the Liver Building at different times and in different weathers. More than once the rain smears across the eyeline of the en plein air painter and leaves a skyline whose buildings are half-hidden by a vaporous downfall; other times the mornings are grey and unpromising but the evenings can reverse this dour start and provide a cosy pink finish before nightfall. Throughout this sequence Burkhalter captures the few golden hours that appear on any day, the moments when light, reflection, back illumination, water and bobbing architecture meet.

Also on show are spliced interior images of the two cathedrals with their altars forming a concertina of devotional spaces; the Anglican’s grand Gothic passages phase into the blue lambency that rains down from John Piper’s stained-glass Metropolitan tower. The exhibition also contains views of the earthy fields of Storeton, looking out onto the hills of North Wales, paintings of the bustle of arriving ferries and larger versions of the Liver Building drizzled with April rain.

View of Metropolitan Cathedral from Wirral is, for me, the canvas that summarises Burkhlater’s style. The tower and funnel are bars of grey and the water is conveyed through pale strips that sink and fall, first offering up silt and then, in sweeping strands, blue depths.

To paraphrase Wilde, whenever people paint the weather, I always feel quite certain they mean something else. Over the course of the next fifty years, the three graces will find modern neighbours in the numerous hotels, offices and large business towers which form the vision of the Peel Group’s plan for a new Liverpool Waterfront. By focusing solely on the monumental stature of the graces and cathedrals, Burkhalter gives them the dignity of Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series, rather than an urbane glossy vision of how they will stand next to the oncoming capitalist complex.

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