AN exhibition celebrating highly-respected York-based painter and colourist Ray Fearn has opened at the Kunsthuis Contemporary Art Gallery.

Raymond Fearn was a figurative and landscape painter who drew his main inspiration from the European painting tradition, working predominantly with oil and acrylics on canvas and board.

He began his career by training as a graphic designer at York Art School and then went on to study fine art painting in Coventry.

Exquisitely evidenced in Ray’s work is both his graphic training and fine art painterly styles developed to harmoniously blend together to produce strong and arresting images, often comprising mysterious, imagined landscapes.

After graduation in 1973, Ray taught art in secondary and higher education across Yorkshire until ill-health retirement. It was at this point he was able to fully concentrate on his art and produced many bold paintings before his death. Ray was a member of York Open Studios and his last show in 2013 contained new works produced while battling terminal illness. He passed away last year.

Influenced greatly by the Yorkshire landscape, Ray was particularly fond of the Yorkshire Wolds and used to say he had discovered them before David Hockney.

He was fascinated by the quality of light in the area and it was a key source of inspiration for his creative body of work.

Ray's wife Julie said: "He would take many photographs of the area from which he would then eventually produce a painting reinterpreting the view from an imaginative, cheeky and often mysterious view point.

"One of his paintings ‘Bigger Logs’ featured in this exhibition is a tribute to Hockney’s bigger trees.”

His later works often subtly questioned the viewer’s expectation and allow us to simply delve into the arresting forms and shapes created with an element of surprise. Intrigued by the physical process of painting itself, Ray had an ability to draw the viewer in and become engrossed in the work and the power of the imagination.

Ray's exhibition is curated by Kunsthuis and is displayed in the Dutch house art café simultaneously to the Shades of Clay exhibition in the gallery.

Kunsthuis Gallery is located at the Dutch house premises on the road between Crayke and Brandsby. The exhibition runs until December 20 and is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am to 5pm.

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