Colin Fraser (British b.1956); "Flow" (2007); Egg tempera on board; signed and dated lower left; glazed and mounted in a gilt and cream wood frame; 62 x 42 cm (24 x 17 ins); Frame size 80 x 60 cm (31 x 24 ins)
CONDITION: In excellent original condition.
PROVENANCE: 2007: Petley Fine Art, Cork Street, London.; 2009: deceased estate.
BIOGRAPHY: Colin Fraser was born in Glasgow in 1956. He studied art in Brighton while in his twenties before moving to Lund in southern Sweden, where he lives with his wife and children. He exhibits regularly at the Royal Academy Summer show, Catto Gallery and Petley Fine Art in London, Mira Godard Gallery in Canada as well as galleries in New York and Glasgow. His work is held in numerous private and corporate collections throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Ever since his first exhibition in Brighton in 1978, he has worked almost exclusively in egg tempera, which has the benefit of being very long lasting, with examples over two thousand years old still in existence, and was the most widely used painting medium until the sixteenth century, when it was superceded by oils. However, it is also extraordinarily time-consuming.
The painted surface must be built up layer by translucent layer, with the paint drying instantaneously and not amenable to manipulation afterwards, unlike oil paints. Although a notoriously difficult medium, it has become a firm favourite of Fraser's, who says that the "restrictions have been paramount in helping me be more direct in my approach to the work, with the instant drying and transparency of the paint actively contributing to a higher level of spontaneity of execution". He is particularly drawn to its vitality which reminds him "of the dynamism of the sun – never static, always changing". "Observed light is usually what attracts me into the process of painting," he says. "The surface of a work painted in tempera simply has a unique glow which cannot be imitated in other mediums".
Constructing each painting is an arduous process, each beginning with an idea or a chance observation followed by weeks of experimentation with arrangements and preparatory drawings. Many of his scenes are staged with strategic placement of chairs, diaphanous textiles and trays of fruit. He believes that the painter "chooses the content and the arrangement, and then it becomes a question of striving to achieve a particular mood". This is, says Fraser, to "build to a place where the objects almost cease to exist and become secondary to the feeling they evoke". He is "drawn by the way sunlight breaks through a glass window or an open door, how the colours in a room can change as the light hits it, how space becomes more vibrant and shadows seem to stretch". Above all, it is the changing moods of the sun that is the central theme in his work.