Marc Gooderham, Painter
Later Afternoon, Fournier St, Spitalfields
There are so many art galleries in my neck of the woods that I have adopted the Jean-Luc Godard approach to visiting them. In other words, I take it at a run just as Anna Karina, Sami Rey and Claude Brasseur sprinted through the Louvre in “Band à Part.” Yet very occasionally – as I am nipping in and out of every gallery in Redchurch St on the first Thursday of the month – something will stop me in my tracks and cause me to linger. Such was the case when I first came upon the visionary paintings of Marc Gooderham.
Here was the world – the very streets – that I knew, but subtly transformed as if by memory or dream. Marc chooses places that exist in the periphery of vision and recreates them in his mind’s eye, revealing the otherness of the familiar with understated surrealism.
It was this shock of recognition that first halted me in front of his pictures, pausing to establish the locations and then becoming seduced by the brooding melancholy of these deserted streets, absent of pedestrians yet haunted by the presence of all those who have come through. With some of these places, I thought only I had spotted their unlikely appeal – because, like Marc, I am drawn to the shabby poetry of these disreputable and neglected corners, sites that characterise the distinctive identity of London more truthfully than the homogeneous sheen of all the gleaming corporate palaces.
“This project started from exploring the city and wandering the streets, so I know it will be an endless undertaking because there’s always something new to discover around every corner,” Marc admitted to me with a helpless smile, as we trudged the empty streets around Petticoat Lane one morning recently. “What makes this such a fascinating place is the proximity of the City of London to these old terraces – and the contrast of the street art makes it even more interesting.” he continued, raising his eyes to the boarded up, tumbledown buildings. “I try to avoid catching the bus,” he confessed as we crossed Commercial St, “so I get the chance to walk and discover the next site for a painting. Once I find the site, I take lots of photographs and make sketches, looking for the best time of day.”
Starting with a pencil sketch to establish the perspective, Marc builds up his paintings in washes of acrylic upon canvas. At first he paints the sky, then the architecture and finally the accretions upon the surface of the buildings. He calls these, the three key elements to a painting – elements that combine in a moment circumscribed by the fleeting light. It is a moment set against the age of the buildings and the ephemeral street art which can change overnight.
When Marc and I visited some of his locations, I was fascinated to discover he had rearranged them in his pictures, removing lampposts and reconfiguring the proportions to create his desired effect. Just as these sites do not draw attention to themselves, Marc’s paintings are quiet works that withhold their painterly and conceptual sophistication behind a superficial veil of heightened realism.
A softly-spoken man with gentle intense eyes, Marc works three days of every week at a job to pay the bills and spends the rest of his time devoted to his paintings which each take six weeks from conception to completion. For the last two years, Marc has been working on this epic series of paintings of lonely corners, assembling a set that he plans eventually to show as a gazetteer of his personal vision of London. Or, as Marc put it plainly, “Two years ago, I devoted my life to painting.”
Inspired by L.S. Lowry and Edward Hopper, Marc Gooderham’s cityscapes beneath a Northern sky possess a soulfulness and mystery that hint at undisclosed life behind those doors and windows. They are well-worn settings for the enigmatic human drama of the city, comprising more stories than you can ever know.
Together Again, Redchurch St.
Vallance Rd, Whitechapel
Fallen, Hanbury St.
Rio Cinema, Dalston.
The Tyger, Great Eastern St.
Corner of The Street, Redchurch St.
The Lonely Stretch, Coronet St.
Back To The Old House, Princelet St.
Paintings copyright © Marc Gooderham