Illustrated companion

The relationship between abstraction and figuration is of particular concern to Christopher Le Brun. He has said 'By temperament I'm an aspirational or visionary painter after Turner or Blake, but that avenue is closed theoretically and practically. It's a cultural dilemma, not a personal one ...' Le Brun is here referring to the problem central for any modern painter who wishes to deal with figurative and symbolic imagery, of doing this while remaining within the mainstream of the modern tradition.

To solve this dilemma Le Brun has drawn inspiration from some of the great Romantic painters, such as Turner and Delacroix. whose work combines powerful imagery with an equally strong emphasis on the purely visual qualities of the painting. With this he has developed a highly intuitive approach to painting, in which images from his imagination form on the canvas as he works and may then be destroyed to be replaced by others. The accumulation of images may at some point suggest one which the artist 'recognises' as significant and he then allows the painting process to be directed by the needs of this particular image. The results are highly ambiguous and mysterious, imagery appearing fitfully and elusively amid the rich and dense textures and looming forms of the painting. This is one of a number of Le Brun's paintings in which the image of a horse appears. It has no specific meaning but is rich in mythical and literary associations. The title refers to a passage in the Journals of Delacroix which the artist recollected as 'colour dreams, thinks, speaks'. It struck him particularly as expressing the idea, closely corresponding to his own approach, that the ingredients of the painting are themselves in some way active participants in its creation. The words also evoke the imaginative and revelatory character of Le Brun's work.

Published in:
Simon Wilson, Tate Gallery: An Illustrated Companion, Tate Gallery, London, revised edition 1991, p.283