Mike Briscoe

Mike Briscoe R.C.A.
MOMA Wales
Glynn Vivian Swansea
Children's Hospital for Wales Cardiff
Associated British Ports
Chatsworth Collection
Private collections worldwide

From 2007 exhibition Brian Sinfield Gallery
At first glance one might be forgiven for regarding Mike Briscoe, quite simply, as a realist painter of extraordinary skill. That he is, but there is more. At one level these paintings can be mesmerizing and uplifting, at another faintly disturbing. There is frequently a conflict between absolute stillness and lively movement, as in Feeding by the Wayside, with sunlight casting its warm rays into the still, empty cafe interior whilst outside the air is alive with the beating wings of seagulls. This creates a sense of unease, a rather unsettling feeling that something is about to happen. In the Calm Before the Storm - it is similar in mood to the paintings of that great American realist painter, Edward Hopper, and it is what makes Mike Briscoe's work so fascinating.
Most of Mike;s paintings revolve around his children, and the beach near his home in North Wales, where he was born in 1960. He studied at Wrexham College of Art and Sheffield College of Art.
There have been a number of solo shows principally in Wales with the Martin Tinney Gallery. Mike has also exhibited in London (Piccadilly Gallery) and at the RA summer exhibitions where he was also a Stowls prize winner, as well as in Paris, Germany and the USA. He is a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy. Brian Sinfield

"Living by the coast gives me a good idea of where I am on the planet geographically speaking." So says Mike Briscoe. Personal history and geography informs his work- his paintings are essentially autobiographical in character. They are a means of giving form to the subjective experiences of his life. This is very much part of the romantic tradition stretching back to the 19th century, in which landscape and places have been used to express states of mind.
"I am inspired by my local area; my recent work is related directly to the coastline and an awareness of where I live. I have distant memories of childhood on the beach and surrounding promenade areas." For Mike having said that though, his "local area", the sea-side town of Colwyn Bay in North Wales, is not presented in these paintings as an architectural and topographical record. The location acts as a backdrop to these "distant memories of childhood" and "more immediate emotions and recent experiences". The paintings become conduits of feeling and expressions of personal and experienced dramas. We can relate to them. However, the manner in which these dramas and experiences are painted is by no means what I would call 'real'.
The paintings are not an objective report on the natural world. They have heightened colour and lighting effect. This is always the case in our reminiscence of events and occasions. "Romanticism is the faculty which takes a particular fragment, a particular incident and mood, and intensifies it, emphasising its queerness and dwelling on its details."* Mike's paintings have that slightly surreal quality of an Edward Hopper painting. But, where Hopper's paintings have figures in them waiting for something to happen, or are imbued with a sense of loneliness, Mike's paintings are about encounters and events. They are paintings painted for the joy of painting, and for the joy of looking at them. The act of putting paint on canvas and board can be seen to have been a joy for Mike. The brushstrokes are visible; the paint is used for its intensity of colour and sensuality.
They also reflect a pleasure we can all take part in. The expectation and anticipation of a place we have never been to before, but have imagined, or are to visit, may be more exciting than the reality- "a description of an encounter between the artist and a corner of the world he lives in."**
Paul Collinson Arts Development Manager
*British Painting Eric Newton Longhrams Green & Co Ltd 1945 p45 **ibid