My work is characterised by heavy geometric and light and shade influence, with a strong use of patterns and structure. Recent work reflects my interest in the fragments of images and views glimpsed in passing. Narrow views relate to larger mostly geometrical architectural features. I live and works near Taunton.
The influence of the pure light of Italy is impossible to ignore in Michael Tarr's exquisitely rendered architectural studies. His paintings are laden with the influence of the flattened perspective of buildings, walls and figures seen in the work of painters such as Piera della Francesca and Sassetta.
However, through the development of his work he combines the influence of these painters with more modern artists, often bringing his work closer to the level of abstraction seen in paintings by Diebenkorn and De Stael.
He offers the viewer a more unusual perspective on the familiar world around us, often reducing the content of his paintings to barely more than grids, lines and patterns.
Sara Dudman – RWA, painter and artist educator
Michael Tarr has long had a love affair with travel, particularly to Italy. In this he belongs to a long British tradition of the travelling artist abroad, inspired by foreign climes and geography. Besides the sights and colours, the lights and sounds, there is a life difference that has an immediate and long lasting effect on the visitor.
With his background as an illustrator, Tarr is well served to capture the moment, the magic of the experience that uplifts the humdrum. His oils and watercolour are varied – of classic buildings, palazzi and church facades, which contrast the texture of stone with reflected light that casts deep shadow; images of empty fruit and vegetable crates stacked high in the market, becoming bleached by the sun; and of ice cream counters, gelati of every conceivable colour, aligned in their metal trays. One can smell the market, feel the heat, become blinded by the light.
What makes Tarr stand out from the regular painter is his vision, what and how he chooses to paint. Avoiding being directly topographical, Tarr takes sections and details of what is in front of him that he observes from more askance and unusual perspectives. The results can sometimes be quite abstract. Recognisable, certainly, but from different viewpoints that make the familiar appear a bit less so. It is an aspect of his work that one is quite unaware of, but which is very important in the making of more visually engaging pictures.
Geoffrey Bertram – Art writer, curator and dealer
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