Full Circle: The Paintings Of Douglas Binder
Douglas Binder, £35

Bradford-born artist, teacher and curator Doug Binder, who turns 70 next year, has selected a variety of his works to reveal something of his life and times as a painter.

The result is a compendium of biography, art history, illustrations, photographs and colour plates that is accessible, informative and entertaining, as varied in its format as the artist’s life with paintbrush and palette knife.

His time at Bradford Art College in the 1950s was spent in the company of David Hockney – nicknamed Boris – John Loker, Norman Stephens, David Oxtoby and others. He followed Hockney to London’s Royal College of Art.

“Hockney would sit declaiming from window ledges while the younger students sat around like disciples. Every break time it was a cup of tea and David telling a story of how he’d been in some kind of trouble – often about his homosexuality, which was still illegal.”

Binder, picked out for especial praise by the artist Patrick Proktor in 1966, had teamed up with graphic designer Dudley Edwards and the volatile and difficult Dave Vaughan. A piece of painted furniture gave them a break. They painted hundreds of pieces and sold them in London and New York. Paul McCartney was a customer. Later they painted cars and were photographed by Lord Snowdon for The Sunday Times.

The book reveals that Doug Binder’s artistic evolution, influenced by the truthfulness of David Hockney’s early Bradford landscapes, has been a journey of abandoned styles.

For example, there are eight attractive compositions of geometric shapes that he did in the early 1980s. From there he moved on to horses and threatening winged creatures in the 1990s, during which time he was curator of Thornton’s South Square Gallery.

In the 21st century, Binder has concentrated on yellowy-green painted nudes. Why the artist went in this direction is perhaps revealed in the book’s question-and-answer chapter.

“I wanted to make the BIG statement: BIG colour, BIG format, BIG message. And I thought I was doing it. A few other people did as well. I think we were fooling ourselves. I was certainly fooling myself.

“Today I’m more interested in marginal growth. I’m quite persuaded by J B Priestley’s remarks on the avant-garde – which I wouldn’t have gone along with as a younger person. He suggests that the avant garde artist NEEDS to show off, whereas he personally prefers modesty in a painter and the delicacies that happen with a smallness of scale.

“Priestley was for the intimate, and I think that intimacy has been lost. It’s become an experiment for me, now, to try to regain that intimacy.”

Binder’s book was assembled over two years under the editorial guiding hand of Vic Allen, arts director at Halifax’s Dean Clough business and arts complex, where Binder is painter in residence.

The third person is used for the bulk of the book, an unusual device for autobiography. The distancing effect this gives allows the reader to view the artist from different angles, like one of his life paintings in which the figure, sitting or lying, is naked.

An exhibition of Doug Binder’s paintings can be seen at Yorkshire Craft Centre’s Bradford Gallery, off Carlton Street, until Wednesday.

The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 10.30am to 4pm.