JOE HARGAN PAI PPAI
WINTER EXHIBITION 2021
I trained in drawing and painting at Glasgow school of art under Dr David Donaldson, Queens Limner in Scotland. Glasgow was well known for its draughtsmanship, use of paint, with a heritage of the Glasgow boys and Scottish colourists; George Henry, Hornel, Peploe, Hunter, Ferguson, and others… The colour was prime. I work in several varied approaches from representational to abstract works. The pieces at Morningside Gallery mainly show the “Sniffy “series that have been highly appreciated and enjoyed. The smaller works, the girls heads often become characters in the larger works the Sniffy scenarios.
This began by sheer luck, it was simply one piece sent to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, around the Millennium. It sold at the private view, and I was approached by several people by letter and phone calls requesting if I had others. Thus began a popular series, which I refer to as ‘Little Playlets’ where ‘Sniffy’ is the main character with his trusty friends, his pet dog or cat. He is often displayed against paintings and works of art I much admire or even poke fun at. The titles are carefully chosen to stir a laugh in the viewer through pun.
The paintings in the background are my versions of an artist I much admire: Canaletto, the ‘Clock Tower’ and the library St Mark’s Square, Venice. Often, I play with contrasting artistic devices i.e. Traditional paintings v Conceptual floor arrangements. Here we see ‘Sniffy’ lying prostrate on the floor, out for the count after a session of drink. He acts as a human sculpture and commentator. Here you see several wine glasses, arranged alongside his sleeping body, another in waiting on the mantelpiece. The wine symbolises the fruits and the good things in life. Awaiting ‘the awakening’ of the master for the twitching of his nose are his trusty pets in anticipation of food or a walk. They monitor his condition with incredulity at his silliness.
The background pictures are my still life works including a love token the ‘Ace of Hearts’ card. This is part of the Sniffy series although he is not present but is represented by his daughter reprimanding the dog. She has been seen in other scenarios as the little dancer representing creativity, youth, joy, and energy. It is not obvious what the dog has done, has he eaten or played with one of the apples? Nonetheless the response of the dog is to avoid eye contact as they often do when guilty — ‘It wisnae me!’
The background painting is a Canaletto of St Mark’s Square, Venice. Here we see another member of the Sniffy family training the dog before playing with the treat in her hand. The dog remains resolute and undeterred by the temptations of cakes on the stand. Standing against the skirting is a token of love the Ace of Hearts’ The wine glass on the dog’s back emphasises his control but hints at the possible break in silence if it falls.
A Little Rosey
The background paintings are my versions of Venice. Venice today around St Mark’s Square has little changed since the 18th century. The title of the work is a pun on the colouring of the painting, the wine and the name of the dog. Generally, a tongue in cheek painting where ‘each to their own’ have their preferences, Sniffy his wine, the dog a ball. The ace of hearts is a symbol of their affection for each other.
The traditional works in the background are by the American artist Singer Sargent. The young girl looks out towards the viewer, lost in thought, as she anticipates her letter. The whippet stands sculptural in profile on the plinth as a work of art. The items on the plinth are books for learning, the ubiquitous burger with flags hinting at past and future political history choices and the ace of hearts a love token reference. Sniffy lies deep in sleep hence title, ‘Forty Winks’.
‘Horse Play’ is the largest work in this suite of paintings and it humorously plays with the Canaletto double of the clock tower. This is a play on the old game of spot the difference. Sniffy lies in his favourite position on top of the piano, with a pile of books on his tummy, representing learning. Close by is a glass of wine, fruits of your labours with a reserve glass on the mantlepiece. The English shire horse leans in to complete a surrealist impact to the work.
The paintings on the back wall are my works except for the central girl painting which is my adaptation of a Singer Sargent work. The young girl in the foreground looks out with a quizzical look. The black bronze figure struts its stuff on a white plinth. Sniffy makes a small appearance in sleeping mode to the right side of the work. Strewn around the floor are items, a pear with seeds, Fertility, playing cards, love life and death. The green apples on the plinth summer fruits of your labours. The work is completed by the lit candle in the empty hearth, a symbol of hope. Also, it is a tongue in cheek reference to the asset rich in property, barely affording to heat their pile.
This green room displays three of my still life works in a fresh modern idiom. The central work is highlighted by my cat Jasmine who would often steal the show by her unwelcomed visit as she would walk across the still life arrangement. Sniffy and the dog stand in profile as sculptural elements. Sniffy is always seen in profile as a commentator figure and entertainer a hint at the human sculptural works of Gilbert and George. The items on the plinths, wine, fruits of your labours, apple, summer fertility and love token ace of hearts complete this fun and joyous work.