Friday, 23 March 2012

Our Business is Fun

Specs76 has done the world a huge favour by uploading this magical 1975 Arts Council documentary on Fred Fowle, the master fairground painter. Fred comes across as charming and self-effacing, and his old mentor Edwin Hall - another towering figure in fairground art - turns out to be an absolute scream.

We get to see some of Fred's psychedelic work, which is equal to anything from the West Coast, despite having being done by an old chap in a tram shed in greyest Balham. But his most original style, also shown here, involved bringing together abstract modernist geometry and illusionistic space influenced by Fred's obsession with Sir James Thornhill's Painted Hall at Greenwich. It's a treat to see him at work on these creations, which oddly sometimes predict the Turner Prize-winning work of Tomma Abts (below).

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