Glover, Ablade b.1934 / Market Intrigues
about this work
Glover’s unique approach, developed over long years of exploration, settled upon the classical medium of oil paint. His application of thick impasto daubs and swirls of paint, when further worked over with a palette knife, yielded a novel discovery: that movement is in the eye of the beholder. Glover has created a hybrid form of abstraction within representation, which in his remarkable hands becomes capable of suggesting the dynamic processes of constant flux, even after the oil paint solidifies into static, encrusted forms. The fixed perspective of a single point in time and space is itself abstracted; instead the viewer’s eye is invited to wander in a hidden landscape generated by colours and shapes, and the saccadic movement of the roving eye itself, supplies the impression of movement in the fluidly shifting focus of these chaotically piled up planes. The human eye’s fovea, that part of the retina with which we discern details, is amazingly narrow, and incapable of apprehending any totality. As the eye searches for details, island-hopping along the unknown archipelagoes discovered in the floating world within the picture frame, it picks out familiar figures, and discerns individual features, against a riotous sea of out-of focus shapes. The wanderer returns having mapped sufficient data with which to make sense of the complete environment, an illusion we all recognise as the entire‘scene’ of the picture. Findings in cognitive neuroscience have since shown that this actually is the way that we understand any picture or indeed any scene in front of us. The human eye follows a particular ‘scanpath’ within the frame presented – and the brain grasps, interprets and constructs the whole without necessarily examining the profusion of details in all its variety. The way we look at a Glover painting mirrors, precisely, the way we look at crowds.

The incipient confusion in any Glover painting is calmed by a hidden structural order intuited by the peripheral vision. Once this underlying arrangement has been interpreted in spatial terms, variations in the field are then used to fill in the details in a loose, informal manner that helps both suggest and define the details in other surrounding areas. The simplest field Glover uses is a uniplanar wedge, suggestive of a crowd so large that it escapes beyond the containing borders of the frame. Here, larger repeated shapes fill the canvas’s lower foreground area, gradually reducing in size towards an imagined horizon lost beyond the topmost limit.

(Text by Gerard Houghton)

Ablade Glover (b.1934, Ghana)

Market Intrigues, 2010

Oil on canvas
122 x 122 cm.
48 1/16 x 48 1/16 in.
October Gallery, London, UK Current Location:


Sotheby's Modern & Contemporary African Art
Sotheby's London
03/28/2018 - 03/28/2018

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
October Gallery, London, UK
October 2014 - 2015

Ablade Glover: 80th Anniversary
October Gallery, London, UK
July 2014 - August 2014


Ablade Glover: 80th Anniversary
October Gallery (Catalogue), 2014, Cover & pp.32

Artwork History
  • artist origin
  • provenance
  • current location
  • exhibitions
  • multiple

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