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Anatolia

That the artist has his studio in Turkey (Anatolia) is a key to the ethos of his work. The Anatolian landscape bears the foot prints and reminders of those many and varied cultures which have passed through, and home to the classical world for thousands of years. Visible from his studio, in the near distance, the grandeur of the Taurus Mountains rises up with its ever-changing light and colour, the same now as then. As in a mirror the awesome rock-hewn setting is reflective of the interaction between man and nature.

Such figures as 'Rockman', 'The Chosen Maiden' and later 'After Newton Don' although conceived and sculpted in London reflect the vision that took him to Anatolia" (from Sherban Cantacuzino-Foreword to DAVID CREGEEN- HIS WORK )

 

"Cregeen creates on different scales. Some of his works are small. Like miniatures, they can exist in a world of their own. The eye must adjust and the mind assimilate to realise their effect. The more we look the more we find. Collectors have always valued the small and the intimate. As Henry Moore observed “a small carving only a few inches in height can give the feeling of huge size and monumental grandeur because the vision behind it is big”. ( HENRY MOORE——) Moore enjoyed working on a small scale.

The line from foot to head of 'Woman II' 1986 contrasts with the rock-hewn and elementally massive nascent 'Rockman' 1985-87 whilst there is something of the earth-goddess 'Erda', the Anatolian mother goddess,  Kybele in the simple Buddha-like form of 'Olive Woman' 1987 or of 'Goat Woman' 1987 with her head bent forward nurtured by their ancestral peasant wisdom.

'Rockman' is within this conception. The rock and the man are one, the connection emphasised with the stone also in bronze. Rockman’s proportions are not yet final, the figure’s power has a veiled sense of ongoing development within the sculptural body. The framework is becoming majestic within its curvaceous and linear outlines, offset by the voids and the rock’s sharpened edges. Once Cregeen had sketched the image the sculptural process moved quickly forward and the inspiration behind the work is evident. The concentration on the depiction of the evolution shines through. 'Rockman' holds an axiomatic place in the body of Cregeen’s work.  In 2018 Cregeen was to create a relief based on his figure of 'Rockman' featuring its back.

'Aspendos', bronze 1988, is a relatively abstract work .The body shape is elliptical with component forms curved with strong surface planes that capture the light. Kneeling back and exuding sheer physical strength through his body and neck, with the pull of upper body against lower, the figure invites us to share with him a power that is at its peak.

A reminder of Aspendos can be found in The Uffizi’s 450 BC torso after Polyclitis (illust--) whose figures always expressed clarity, and balance .  Cregeen named this piece after the amphitheatre of Grecian times in Southern Turkey close to his studio.

Based on a series of drawings Cregeen’s figure gains force from the strong modelling of forms in the hollows and spaces, while the thrust and prominence of the thighs contrast with the backward sweep of the chest. The lower back as in Ben 1983  carries the weight and balance of the movement.

'Water King' bronze1987 Conceived in Southern Turkey where Cregeen found himself increasingly absorbed with the forms within the mountains, rocks and boulders and the extraordinary quality of light and colour 'Water King' is  both a figure and a mountain landscape with body surfaces echoing water cascading over it. The work refers back to his earlier figure 'Rockman' in which the human form is wedded to its human matrix.....

   

'The Surfer' , bronze 1989, with body and limbs poised as if on undulating waves, a hint of anxiety from the turn of the head attempting to anticipate the currents. Speed and dash exemplify the exhilarating movements, defying the challenge of the moment with quick thinking and supple legs to preserve the balance. This is a bronze of rhythmic composition and youthful agility. It glistens with its evocation of the sea and the open air......

The two versions of 'Chirali' bronze, powerful in 1989 , rarefied in 1996 and 'Chimera' bronze, 2002,  comprise a stunning creation. The sense of freedom from gravity, ecstasy releases the body from normal constraints and at its ultimate turns and flies in active spirit and so is a difficult emotion to replicate. The sheer exuberance of 'Cirali' brings to mind the differing versions of the Matisse circle of dancers expressing such joie de vivre and enthusiasm, that verve that is 'Cirali'. All this is heightened by the void which the arms create in a continuity so sympathetic to the arc of the entire body. Cregeen has forged a figure beyond confinement to material boundaries, beyond restraint in “Endless Worlds”.....

 

'Coban' bronze, 2010, the young Anatolian shepherd is shown wearing a covering known as “kepanek” protecting him from "the furious winter’s rages” of the mountainous region where he is to be found; only his head being exposed.  He is as much a part of the scene as Goat Woman and Olive Woman springing from the soil as Rockman emerging from earliest mankind.

The sweep of the cloak’s lines with its plain folds,  add to the sense of stoic authority that the figure conveys. There is a seeming contradiction of movement within stillness and reflect the spirit of this figure. The form breathes the very air of its pastoral surroundings. He is at one with nature, the impression being as much metaphysical as material".

(From Lois Katz David Cregeen- His work 2018)

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