MONMOUTH.-A modern day old master, a figurative genius or both? As artist George Weissbort approaches his 80th birthday this question still resonates in an art world, genius is considered in an obvious commercial context, as creating a pile of bricks or a formaldehyde shark.
In stark contradiction, George has seen his work exhibitied every year at the RA until his way of painting was no longer considered "cutting edge", yet still his works sold at leading galleries in London and across the globe and remain as treasured pieces in many of the finest private art collections in the UK, Europe and the USA; and in the Museum of Modern Art in Tel Aviv.
At 80, what drives a man like George to continue to pursue perfection in every single piece of work he produces, be it a commissioned portrait or a 'nature morte'? The fineness of his work through the development of formal refinement sets him apart in a world awash with 'average artists' and one that to a pitiful extent has lost the ability or desire to admire the work of true genius in selected Old Masters.
Through his lifetime George has seen the world at war in twenty or more conflicts, he has seen the natural order of the world spiral seemingly out of control, driven through man's dual desire to constantly push the boundaries of acceptability (not limited simply to modern art!) and at the same time to attempt to create an order that is time bound by the latest fashion, uniform and yet eccentric. Despite this constant and unrelenting bombardment he has kept his own truth and further has offered each of us the opportunity to share it. Silently ignoring the absurdities of modern art in every work, he offers a return to the 'harmony of visual music' to a time and place where even for the briefest moment, we can appreciate a painting's formal content as well as its subject matter, where life and art as seen by genius can be measured in stability, and harmony, ordered, as in music, by repetition and variation. Weissbort, in short, paints in that rarest of devotions that which can, in short, be nominated by the term, a barbarism in spite of its precision, of fundamentalist historicism, inspired both by historical precedents and 'Nature'.
To quote Anthony Rudolf from Phidan's Press on George's work, "to paint in the spirit of Poussin, Chardin, Piero, Vermeer and Holbein in the 21st Century is for this painter, a radical project of artistic reclamation and psychic renewal."
To celebrate George's 80th birthday and to acknowledge his undoubted and continuing reclamation of true artistry through figurative painting, the Denise Yapp Contemporary Art Gallery is holding a unique exhibition of some of Georges finest works. The exhibition runs from 11th April until May of 2008.
Finally to quote David Lee, editor of the Jackdaw, "to those willing to look, figurative painting is an open book and this is why, in the end, people will be studying George Weissbort's work in a hundred years time; that is long after so much of what is now fashionably challenging and winning prizes has been despatched to the landfill. It will move future generations in the same way as it moves us now because the best art is always beyond fashion."