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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kerry Hallam

Café d' la Ramparts, Kerry Hallam
--color so rich (yet fairly authentic) it almost hurts the eyes.
Copyright, Jim Lane
Villefranche Waterfront, 2001, Jim Lane,
my own version of Cote d'Azur azure.
About thirteen years ago now, my wife and I enjoyed our first trip abroad (not counting various "out of country" experiences on this side of the Atlantic). We flew to Barcelona where we boarded Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas for week long loop around the western Mediterranean. Our first stop was in France, a little seaside resort called Villefranche sur mer, (which, roughly translated I think means French tourist village by the sea). It's a picturesque little place opportunistically situated between Nice and Monaco. It was the first and only time I have ever been in France. We spent a day there, mostly on a bus whirlwinding through Nice, Cannes, Monaco, and the tiny, medieval, mountaintop village of Eze. As so many have before me, I fell in love with the area. It's little wonder the Cote d'Azur (Azur Coast), better known to Americans as the French Riviera, has long been the favorite resort of the entire European continent. Julius Caesar is said to have vacationed there. The Gauls even built a monument (part of which is still standing) to him in gratitude for his having conquered them. Moreover, the one thing people recall having visited this pricey little playground is its color, especially the azure wavelengths.
Cannes, Kerry Hallam. The city of Cannes didn't excite me much in
visiting there, but Hallam's sweeping version of it certainly does.

Eze Village, Kerry Hallam
The British-born (1937) painter, Kerry Hallam, revels in this colorful Mediterranean beauty (especially the azure parts). I might be mistaken but I think the first time I ever saw his work (a print) was, in fact, before we ever got off the boat. It was on the wall of our cabin, the painting Eze Village (right). Today, as I was choosing images from his roughly twelve-thousand paintings, I began to hunger for a return trip. Whether in oils, watercolor, or pastels, the French should pay the man for generating tourist euros by the cruise ship load. Virtually every one of his paintings strikes a 'been there, done that, but let's do it again" chord within me.

Grand Canal, Venice, Kerry Hallam (it's actually a little wider and not quite so blue).
Kerry Hallam
However, as glorious as they are, Hallam's work is not limited to French geography. His Grand Canal (above) would easily send me back to Venice (not that it would take much to do that). Besides being a first rate artist, Hallam is also a musician (with the CDs to prove it) as well as a writer, businessman, and gallery owner (Nantucket, Mass.) He's also something of a "character" (some might even call him a rogue). I mean, you have to love a man who mounts an exhibition of female nudes bearing the title, "Nude Paintings of Other Men's Future Ex-Wives" (below, right).

Rebecca 2009, Kerry Hallam

Virtually every painting Hallam has ever done centers around, near, or upon the water. Even his arched interior (more or less) Grand Hotel (below, which Grand Hotel he doesn't say) overlooks the sea. His love of sailing brings him right down on the sea. His Wharf Study jettisons his tradition infatuation with blues (wonder if he sings the blues) in favor of aqua and peach (one of my own favorite combos). Speaking of combos, Hallam has taken his brushes and acrylics talent and applied them to marine charts (maps to landlubbers) with especially engaging results (below, left). Though he's lived in the U.S. since 1973, his colorful paintings chart an itinerary that seems to wind clear around the world.
Grand Hotel, Kerry Hallam

Wharf Study, Kerry Hallam, perfect for behind the bar on board my yacht.
Farralones, Kerry Hallam,
acrylics on old nautical charts.

Hallam seems equally at home working from a Paris rooftop as he is on the 18th hole (below) of his favorite golf course painting (not putting) extremely green greens. His Paris Sunset scene (bottom) is as breathtaking as those from the lower part of the French map (though perhaps a little less colorful). However, keep in mind, Hallam is an unabashed impressionist, though perhaps not the color purist that the original 19th century daubers. Certainly he bears up well under the same inspiration, and don't forget, van Gogh was no namby-pamby when it came to squeezing out bright colors onto his palette. If you like color and lots of it, you're going to love Hallam. If not, either you've never been to the Cote d'Azur or, like many "art appreciators" today, color frightens you a little. If some of the images here seem to be rather low in resolution, at least part of that "slightly out of focus" quality comes from Hallam's Impressionism. The rest is the result of his careful avoidance in allowing high-resolution images of his work to appear on the Internet. The man's no dummy. He knows how the present day art market works.

The 18th Hole, Kerry Hallam

Paris Sunset, Kerry Hallam


  1. I had the pleasure of working with Kerry Hallam on a pair of serigraphs in the mid-'90s. I was the art director for a screen-printing company in Boca Raton, Florida. Mr. Hallam came into our studio every day for a week or two to reproduce his paintings, one color at a time, on large sheets of clear polycarbonate film, which I then converted to film positives in the darkroom. After tweaking and registering 15-20 of the color positives, they were sent out to the screen-making department, where a single screen for each color was created and sent to the press. Mr. Hallam graciously signed individual prints from each run and gave them to me and a few other employees, and added to each a personal note of thanks. I enjoyed the experience immensely, and the two serigraphs (Rainbow Regatta and Reign Of Roses) still hang in my home.

    1. Reign of Roses is very special. I purchased the original from Kerry while vacationing on Nantucket about 25 year ago. One of the few I have seen him do of the island. Love it!

    2. David--

      Thanks for your personal input. Very often such words mean more to readers than anything I might say.

  2. Ed--

    Thanks for your comment, such personal items add a lot to my dry commentary.

  3. You're welcome. My eyebrows raised a bit when I came to the part in your story about "Nude Paintings of Other Men's Future Ex-Wives." Mr. Hallam invited a few of us to a catered dinner party/art exhibition at his home in Boca one night in the '90s, where dozens of his original creations were on display and for sale -- including a few female nudes, one of which was his current wife and dinner hostess -- which made my then-girlfriend blush. A few weeks later he asked me if I would be offended if he propositioned my girlfriend to pose for him -- nude or not -- though the implication was clear. I told him I didn't mind, and I'd pass along his request. To make a short story even shorter, she declined, we eventually broke up, and Kristen (not necessarily her real name) missed her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve acrylic-on-canvas immortality, if not notoriety.

  4. Ed--
    Yes, I got a kick out of that show title when I came across it too. I love that sort of thing--the unexpected--even outrageous. When people buy art, they are, in effect, buying the artist's persona as well. Stories like that, especially if you own one of his nudes, make for great dinner party conversation, mitigating to some extent the cost of the art work.

    1. "When people buy art, they are, in effect, buying the artist's persona as well."

      Absolutely true. Part of that "persona" is the artist's value judgements. A more philosophical definition of art is "a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments." Most people react subconsciously and automatically to art without giving it much deeper thought, but how they react (and why) reveals as much about their own sense of life as it does the artist's. In fact, the viewer (or listener) of art -- the so-called "consumer" (terrible word) -- exposes his own soul to the world in his public appraisal of art. This goes for the casual "consumer" as well as the critic. For many, it's an unwitting form of confession.

  5. Ed--

    Like your definition of art. I's much deeper than mine "Creative Communication." It's also more difficult to understand. I've always maintained that no art changes hands (except perhaps investment art) unless there is an emotional attachment on the part of the buyer. It may or may not be the most important consideration, but it's almost always a factor, even if the work is simply to cover a crack in the plaster or match the couch.

    1. I think the motivation of matching a picture with a couch is probably more common than many artists would be comfortable in believing of their fellow humans, but maybe not. Mr. Hallam and I were discussing this very idea once. He had no illusions about it, telling me that he was utilizing the colors that the art market demanded at that time, specifically the South Florida market. No "art for art's sake" with him.

  6. Ed--
    Yes, I've written about favorite colors

    a month or so ago and it behooves every artist to have an instinctive grasp of what sells and what doesn't in this regard. It's as much a science as it is an art.