Winkworth is a still-life painter, and a good one, although inevitably it's hard to look at work in such a well-worn genre without seeing echoes of what has gone before. This isn't a criticism. Originality for its own sake is an overrated virtue - hardly a virtue at all - and there's a lot to be said for the judicious borrowing of a tried-and-tested idea, especially if, as Winkworth does here, the borrower brings a fresh twist to familiar territory.
At first glance, his pictures remind me of the work of William Scott in the 1940s and '50s: the master of the flattened picture plane and well- placed pot and pan. With Winkworth, though, the objects have an oriental flavour - ginger jars, joss sticks and Chinese crackers - a resonance of his childhood in Asia and the Far East.
Hong Kong seems to have been the focus of Winkworth's life in recent years, and from the little that I know of that place, his work catches something of its strange atmosphere. A curious mixture of sacred and secular, where roadside shrines live amidst the traffic - still points in a spinning world - and where everyday things are often steeped in symbolism. These shrines are themselves the subject of some of Winkworth's paintings and their mood haunts many others.
The most successful of the paintings here are the least obviously decorative. He's a brave colourist, but the best pictures are the cooler, quieter works where the simple shapes of cups and plates and jars are placed against a chalky-white- grey ground, the objects tied to the space by a horizontal line behind - the edge of a table or altar perhaps. We don't quite know if the context is religious or domestic - an odd balance, but balance is what these pictures are all about.
Richard Winkworth, Wilson Stephens Fine Art, 11 Cavendish Road, London NW6 (0181-459 0760) by appointmentReuse content