A wet Sunday

Ruth Withallby Bruno Rosada

At the turn of the century, a millenium in fact, every prominent painter is faced with a certain question – that of coming to terms with the era that has just closed. Which of the different components of 20th century art did he lean towards, what did he get from it, and what did he give back in return?

Ruth Withall, a cultured artist, aware of the signs of the times, and an expert in the various aesthetic influences and movements, has known how to make good use of the century that has closed, without becoming its victim, and is looked upon as a perfect expressionist in a formal sense; a context which most of the prominent artists of this period have felt obliged to keep in with.

Ruth Withall reveals a seriousness of activity correctly collocated in the history and geography of contempory art. Her painting is a living consequence ( one of the many possible results) of the culture of our time, taking advantage of its most significant elements.

Ruth Withall was born in East Retford, and being born in East Retford, an ancient Royal Borough in famous Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, is her destiny. The greenery of the East Midlands is not only a feast of nature, but a passionate cornucopia of civil enlightenment. And a citizen who has had the luck to be born there, draws through her vision not only nutriment for her heart and soul, but nourishes in her innermost core mysterious cromosomes from an ancient civilisation, still very much alive and recognizable in the world around. Here lived Robin Hood. Here legend becomes history. With her pictures Ruth Withall reveals that what man has created over the centuries has amalgamated with nature, taking on a similar appearance so that one cannot tell rock from brick, rough moss on a stone from crumbling plasterwork. Hence the work of Ruth Withall has only one defect, (if one can be paradoxical) – it is beautiful and very pleasing to the eye. And this beauty tends to mask the deep thought hidden away inside it, that search for the truth to find the significance of things, that uncertainty of life promoted to becoming the bearer of its basic sustenance. Her art is learned, philosophical. Not that she ignores the details, (the composition is beautiful and pleasing); on the contrary they are skilfully handled, useful tools to produce that beauty. But on close observation one comes to the concise conclusion that this beauty is a means in itself. This art arises, above all, out of a trust in the existence of outside reality, vibrant and reproducible, which the greater part of 20th century culture had mistrusted, and flatly refused, even! And the realistic precision within a picture, besides being intensely lyrical, is of a realism that reveals the striking consistency of things. It not only conveys shapes, nor just concepts, but frames of mind, sensations and emotions. (Benedetto Croce would have talked about ‘feelings’ but today the word is overused and can be misleading). Moods, feelings and emotion that nature evokes, that special aspect of nature that she exists in and represents. In short a stimulating circuit is created through reality, thought, and art. And that is what art is all about!

The red tractor

La sua pittura supera la realtàby Joan Lluìs Montané

Ruth Withall is a creator who goes beyond what she sees. Although her paintings keep within formal limits, the use of colour – often impulsive, then meticulous, and occasionally explosive, is always handled with decisive touches, an attitude which stems from a keen sense of observation. This arouses a conviction that here is an artist who knows how to look, and who owns an acute sense of vision.

The fact that she starts from reality is undeniable; but a closer look reveals a particular aspect of this vision – peculiar details which make up an allegory, suggesting something bordering on fantasy, even.

She sets out with an integral moment, a seemingly normal situation, but harbouring a will to transform reality. And reality calls up a particular concept. It is the immanence of what it is – of why it is; it is essential, mythological even, an allegory that brings forth hope and the will to live, to exist, to absorb every moment, second by second.

Sometimes her work, her landscapes seem part of an intimate world she does not wish to rationalize, but prefers to tranform in such a way as to exceed reality.

Her painting surpasses reality, part of those profound dreams, ethereal, floating away into outer space; but at the same time remaining well within the bounds of the every day order of things.