Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Peregrine Heathcote's 1930s Pseudo-Nostalgia

I'm puzzling over how to classify the art of Peregrine Heathcote (1973 - ). On the one hand, he makes part of his living painting portraits, but few of these turn up in Google Images searches. What one does find in proliferation are images of paintings with 1930s settings populated by people dressed fairly recent attire. I deal with the latter in this post.

For some reason, there is little biographical information regarding Heathcote on the Web. Sources with sketchy information are here and here. One site I stumbled across hinted in passing that he attended Harrow, and a partly blocked Times of London piece dealt with Heathcote's renovation of his house in the tony Chelsea (in London) neighborhood. So I must assume that he is doing fine financially, unlike many artists.

Heathcote has a Web site that's worth viewing. This page and subsequent pages feature his paintings, the titles of which are cryptic and that I ignore in the presentation below.

Are his paintings Dieselpunk? Maybe, according to this post on a Dieselpunk site. I'm inclined to think not. That's because most Dieselpunk art alters actual 1920s and 30s objects as if they were in a parallel universe. Heathcote instead takes objects as they were and does his time-warping by the inclusion of non-period (in terms of dress) people.

Like Retro artist Robert LaDuke (see my post here), Heathcote recycles themes, settings and objects. See the images below for examples.


The top painting includes an American 1935 Auburn 851 and a British De Havilland 89 Rapide, the lower one features a De Havilland 86 Express.

The aircraft is a German Junkers G.38.

I'm not sure which tri-motor airliner is included here, though it's most likely a Ford.

Three walking the dock scenes. The flying boat in the middle image is a Short S-23, the one immediately above is a Boeing 314.

Deco train travel. The license plate on the race car in the upper image includes Heathcote's initials.

In case you haven't noticed, Heathcote includes 1930s luggage in many of his paintings. Here the traveler faces an ocean liner.

Phone-call images with New York City at dusk out the window.

For some reason, the sports car in this painting is post-World War 2 and not from the 1930s.

Booking a journey.

These paintings seem to be a take-off on Jack Vettriano, but lack the tension and sense of potential menace often present in his work.

I've never seen a Heathcote painting in person, though I'll be on the lookout when I'm near a gallery that carries his work. This means I must evaluate on the basis of images such as those displayed above.

Despite what I noted in the various comments above, I rather like his painting. Yes, it's more hard-edge than I usually prefer, but the point is to portray 1930s stuff clearly, unambiguously. The people in his paintings are pretty repetitious in terms of pose and costume details, but that's something one notices on a Google Images spread or assembled on a blog page. In isolation, a Heathcote might be quite interesting, especially if juxtaposed to different kinds of paintings or else perhaps placed near a group of Art Deco objects.

I'm not prepared to claim Heathcote's work great any more than I am Vettriano's, though I find both strangely appealing due to their subject matter. In Heathcote's case, I pretty sure it's because I'm a sucker for the elegant aspect of the 1930s, wisps of which persisted into my childhood years.


jhull said...

Nicely painted but not really of the period in that they depict. And the elements appear placed in the paintings as the scale to figure is often off a bit. Still all in all I like them.

dearieme said...

I flew in a De Havilland bi-plane when I was a boy. I don't remember striking young women in stylish hats, though. He likes hats, doesn't he? I must say that his pro-hat propaganda is pretty persuasive.

parsnip said...

Absolutely BRILLIANT work, exceptional detail. Amazing! Linda Barringer