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Doggie lover’s dedication

Alfonso Gratrix or The_Fonzzzzzz as he is known to his two-hundred odd Instagram followers appears to be as excited as I am to meet him. This pooch is the surprising inspiration behind Georgina Gratix’s new exhibition, Puppy Love, at the Smac Gallery in Woodstock. A number of still life works feature this lovable pug, there are portraits of him, a wall in the gallery is devoted to paintings of him and other dogs and there are numerous ‘painted sculptures’ of dogs.

Gratrix clearly is a little gaga for dogs, but I suspect the doggy theme might also have something to do with her odd desire not to be taken seriously as an artist. Or at least not to make “serious art.” Call it a backlash against conceptualism, art or painting itself. Not that she considers herself a painter.

“I’m an artist who works with paint,” she says, as we stroll into a room in the gallery to discuss her work.

Apparently there is a difference between being a painter and using paint. If it was not obvious before it might be now with her new exhibition, which includes an installation with her paintings and a cornucopia of second hand objects that have been treated to her distinctive impasto painting style, which is defined by excess.

The result is that her subjects or subject-matter are distorted and come off looking grotesque.

“No one ever likes how they look in my paintings,” she observes, while we stand in front of The Misfits, a portrait of a couple with hairy faces that remind me of Cousin Itt, the hairy character from the Adams Family movies. She admits that this painting is “an anti-painting” – a dark doppleganger painting born from a commission to do a portrait of a couple to mark their 30th wedding anniversary.

“I was struggling with it and I wasn’t enjoying it, so I started this as a retaliation. No body wants a grotesque face in their portrait,” she says.