Anthony John Gray never had any formal training when he changed his career path from being a British police officer to becoming an artist. I find his work quite fascinating because of its fusion of the surreal with abstract geometry. Apart from giving it a certain Gothic expression, this blend also makes his painting appear aloof and emotionally detached. But the psychedelic coolness of his work, the spacey indifference, does not suggest a certain nonchalance or a lack of approachability; instead most of his paintings seem to convey a level of self-control, indifference bordering on serenity, and unruffled calmness. Gray’s collage-like juxtapositions, which often seem to endow women with power and enigma, fuse structure, lightness and the search for the ultimate freedom into form that emanates from a place beyond subconscious production. In this context, the artist’s own description of his work as “Spiritual Logic” seems to make perfect sense – and so does Gray’s poetry to his works ‘The Magnificent Obsession’ and ‘Liberated Desires’ which I have enclosed below. What makes Gray’s work so special is that its aesthetics is an expression of a quest – the search for meaning as spiritual essence.
THE PILGRIMAGE (DIPTYCH – left panel)
THE PILGRIMAGE (DIPTYCH – right panel)
WOMAN NO. 1
And life’s freedom is forbidden
Seek the universe within
Keep the ethics and the morals in
And you will find you have a Magnificent Obsession.
LIBERATED DESIRES 2
Gray said about this series: “Liberated Desires first came in 1979 and it is one of those images that will not go away, you keep trying to perfect it. Seated above yourself, ruler over all things and yet possessing total freedom over choice, absolute personal freedom in your own head, that’s Liberated Desires. Thirty pieces so far, maybe when I find that complete freedom I will stop”.
Conjuring up in your mind is fine
holding it there is altogether different.
From the painting LIBERATED DESIRES No 5.
Crossing the universe is impossible
But I have done it lots of times
And I have never left home.
From the painting LIBERATED DESIRES No 4.
There is no way to escape the night
And whatever landscape betrays you
Be sure your judgement is right
For although I am your past
I am your future too.
From the painting LIBERATED DESIRES No 7.