Artist Spotlight: Euan Uglow by Ella O’Connell

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I first became fascinated with the work of Euan Uglow when I was studying A Level Art. My teacher had introduced me to his mind-blowing pieces by telling a story of how she was fortunate enough to have seen one. She was at a cocktail party revolving around art when a conversation sparked up, and someone asked her if she had ever heard of Euan Uglow. She quickly responded that he was her absolute favourite artist. The man was looking after a canvas by Uglow while his friend was on holiday. The painting was huge and way more stunning than could be described. I learnt of his incredible talent. The way my teacher spoke about Uglow and introduced me to his methods made it impossible not to catch the ‘Euan Uglow is incredible’ bug.

Euan Uglow is a British Artist known for his perfectionism and meticulous methods he used to create mesmerising nudes, landscapes and still life scenes. He would set up studio scenes of female nudes and various objects while considering it’s geometric and aesthetic positioning. In his preparatory studies, his dots and dashes show measurements and construction of the pieces. Some of these can be seen in his final paintings, indicating he was continually striving for perfection; he incorporates The Golden Section thoroughly into his work.

This ratio, 1: phi, is used to show aesthetically pleasing proportions within a piece. The Greek Letter Φ (phi) is the equivalent of 1.618… and is the basis of The Golden Ratio or The Golden Section. Uglow used this to create harmony and balance in his artwork to make them altogether more pleasing to the eye. The Spiral and Ratio have been used frequently in art throughout history.

You can see his mathematical calculations in the preparatory sketch of ‘Summer Picture’. I find his technique very inspiring in terms of my art practice as a First-Year Fine Art student. Over the past few years, I have become very familiar with Uglow’s practice, and I attempt to employ some of his techniques. I have naturally been measuring and drawing these dots and lines to ensure precision, but his work has encouraged me to be even freer and consider leaving these marks to invite the viewer into the creative process of a piece. He measured and used plum lines to ensure the accuracy of his works, these strings he set up can be seen in photographs of his studio. The time he took and his precise technique is evident in his paintings.

The Quary Pignano (1979-80)
Image by @euanuglow via Instagram

Another of his unique ideas makes his pieces seem even more perfect. Uglow uses the fascinating technique of placing different coloured shapes in his compositions to create balance. In ‘The Quary Pignano’ he has used a bright blue form to balance off the weight of the figure to fulfil his goal of perfection and harmony. You can see that most of the importance of the painting would have been on the right if the shape wasn’t added. I have attempted this technique in a piece of my own and found it quite satisfying to have the ability to change the painting so drastically with a single seemingly insignificant shape.

Not many people I have spoken to about Euan Uglow seem to recognise his name which to me is a great shame. This means they haven’t been able to appreciate his astounding abilities and pieces. I dream of being able to see some of his preparatory sketches or one of the immense canvases in real life rather than through a screen. It would probably be a bit like my first time seeing a Monet painting, as Uglow has become such a significant influence on my practice.

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