It's been a busy week over at RGU with Julie-Anns show opening on the Tuesday and Joe Fans show opening on the Thursday. Its quite funny as I'd seen Joe at loads of openings over the years but I'd never had an introduction to the man or his work. That is until I started dating Mary who happened to be curating the artists for the Painted Doors project and of course Joes door is pretty special. After seeing the completed door and a quick google search I was left perplexed. How could such an incredible artists be living and working in Aberdeen and how could I be so oblivious to his work? I do pride myself on getting out there, connecting with artists and galleries and taking an interest across many spectrum's but somehow Joe slipped through the net. And that's not a bad thing.
RGU's Art & Heritage Collections department have been working closely with local artist, curator, festival organiser and all round culture boss Sally Moir to curate a selection of shows pulling from the universities extensive archive of work. Previous show 'The Sum of the Parts' by Julia Gardiner was a perfect launch for the curatorial collaboration and 'Studio Now And Then' is a perfect show case of Joe Fans work! Having studied and taught at Grays School of Art its fitting to see a show comprised of Joes recent and older works along with a fine selection of postcards, ephemera and a brick like lump of dried paint from his studio. Wall upon wall is filled with paintings, prints and original paper works. Joe has a really special vision which you find yourself falling into, the larger painted works employ mellow tones which seem to reference a different time, a time removed from the present but perhaps not in the past but just elsewhere. Its like finding an old forgotten toy in the attic or something thats just imbued with a history, a story that's familiar but its still unfolding just off in the distance. Each canvas is almost like a visual puzzle with references and objects galore that you could spend hours picking out but still not quite take it all in.
The paper works reveal the intricate framework of the paintings but in blueprint form, shapes, objects and motifs are identified, marked out for further investigation. They provide a fine counter point to the larger scale paintings and remind me of the intricately illustrated books of my childhood. There's definitely an element of child like wonder in Joes work that extends from the picture to the viewer and its hard to resist entering this incredible world. From the moment I saw Joes door I felt blown away, even more so when I found out the story behind it. Its funny to think now that if I hadn't met Mary then I'd only now be finding out about his work. But nothing really prepares you for seeing it in real life, no google image search could compare to seeing the real thing.
So I suggest you do just that and pop along to The Sir Ian Wood building (the one at the first stop on the bus when it enters the RGU campus) and check out 'Studio Now And Then' you have until the 22nd of January but multiple visits are recommended. If you're unfortunate enough not to live in Aberdeen then you can view some of Joes work here. Props to Sally and George from the collections team for putting together the show and finally Joe, you've made it, you've got a feature on my blog! Joe Fan RSA, the RSA stands for Really Swell Artist right? Thanks for your words of encouragement and support.