Romi Behrens show

I feel very excited about having this exhibition with Romi Behrens, I first saw one of her paintings in a mixed exhibition at Newlyn Art Gallery and in this particular show it was (for me), far the best painting in the exhibition. It was a painting of a mandolin in its case, everything about the painting was ‘right’, the composition was perfect the balance of the lid revealing the instrument to the viewer inviting to be picked up. Romi’s tone of paint was exquisite, thick, sumptuous oils, sludgy and delicious, boldly applied resulting in an energetic painting that was executed with conviction and without caution. It positively shone on the wall of the gallery and to this day haunts me.

Behrens is a self-taught artist, who in the past-attended Penzance Arts School, she has been painting for the last 46 years. She recounts a story of how when first married she turned to painting:

‘Mike and I had been married for three months, one summers afternoon as a naïve young bride I climbed stiles and crossed fields to find my husband to collect him for the walk he had promised me, I beckoned him, his body language gave me the answer, hunched over his tractor, with a stern jaw and gritted teeth, it was at that moment, love him as I do, that I realised I need something else in my life! That afternoon I returned home from Penzance with a set of oil paints in my basket, I can't remember how or where I got them from, but that day was the beginning of my new passion… painting’.
Sitting in Behrens’ 16th century farmhouse kitchen discussing over homemade soup the merits of painting and the juggling relationship between family and kids, I glance over at the Belfast sink and in the dim light of the Cornish kitchen I see a sign at washing up eye level--------- I AM A PAINTER I PAINT EVERYDAY! ---Affirmation.
This is certainly true, selecting from the vast amount of work for this exhibition was mind-boggling. Behrens has recorded her life through her painting, people that have come in and out of her life have been recorded in oil, a gesture or a characteristic are captured in the vivacious instinctive way that Behrens paints. Romi is a sensual person her moods and her appetite for experimentation are reflected in her work, although she has been painting for a lifetime, her love for her craft has not diminished or faded this is reflected in her enthusiasm of life and her general joie de vivre.

Fiona Gray

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