ART / In the Studio: The roar of the crowd: Busy bodies throng the work of Matthew Radford. Iain Gale takes a closer look

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The Independent Culture
High in the seclusion of his Ladbroke Grove studio, Matthew Radford paints memories of street life. After a decade in New York, it's unclear whether his thoughts are still more Manhattan than Marylebone. It doesn't matter. Radford's subjects are non- specific, his target the crowd of people that every day adds its teeming bulk to any late 20th-century city street.

Radford structures his canvases out of claustrophobic groupings, figures frozen in motion. His desire to depict movement, 80 years after the Futurists and Marcel Duchamp, is not new. Where he diverges, though, is in the compassion he brings to his subject. Rather than merely recording movement, Radford wants to show he is 'involved with mankind'.

'Every day, every one of us is totally involved in the spectacle of confronting people,' he says. 'I want to make paintings that, while keeping sight of that experience as a whole, don't lose sight of the sense of the individual. The only narrative in my paintings is about the individual will of the figures. I'm concerned with the way I, as an individual, see the world as I move through it. I don't want my canvas to be a stage. Nothing is still, we're surrounded by motion. The figures are just passing through. I want to create a web between people across the canvas and with the viewer. I want it to seem as if it's me who's actually in motion.'

Working in two styles, Radford alternates between large-scale figures resembling a security video freeze- frame, and smaller figurative blobs through which - Canaletto with a camcorder - he addresses the anonymity of the modern city. For the larger figures, he will paint a whole person before deconstructing it with the swipe of a brush.

In one work the figure has been wiped to such an extent that all that remains is a splash of blue, crossing the canvas like the horizontal lines used by cartoonists to suggest sudden movement. 'Whoosh,' someone's just left the pavement. But this is no joke. 'It's edgy,' says Radford. That's life.

Matthew Radford's work is on show until 25 June at Houldsworth Fine Art, 13 Old Burlington St (081-969 8197)

(Photographs omitted)

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