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Part One

Part Two

Part Three

The Paintings

Ely Place Period - mid 1960s

Project Period - late 1960s

Late Period

Additional Material:

Trinity College Retrospective Exhibition

Lincoln Gallery Retrospective Exhibition

Ballyfermot Retrospective Exhibition

Other Works

The Ely Place Period - mid 1960s

    A number of common characteristics link the paintings of this period. Subject matter usually comprised of interpretations of the human figure - these tending to occupy a major proportion of picture space (i.e. 'Carnivore', 'Incantation', 'Figure in Snow') and occasionally placed in some bleak setting (i.e. 'Steam Engine'). Colours were restricted to a very limited range indeed; murky browns, greys and greens predominating. Wade never seems to have developed any particular interest in colour, often painting in pure monochrome (particularly during this period). Tone and surface texture were to remain his chosen pictorial building blocks. Often the chiaroscuro effects - faces and limbs emerging spot-lit from a murky background - have an oddly archaic flavour suggestive of 17th century Dutch or Italian painting. And because Wade applied his paint very thinly, sometimes in transparent glazes, his tones achieve a great luminosity and depth.

    Interpretations of the human figure range from the grotesque and the repulsive to the bizarre and the whimsical. A great deal of early frustration was poured into a painting like 'Carnivore'. This work (on a panel 54 by 48 inches) presents the image of a large squatting ghoulish figure, with goggle eyes and tomb-stone teeth. Apparently quite cheerfully, he sits devouring the substance of his own body, which gapes open hideously. Flesh and bone have been removed from the cranium to reveal a mass of spaghetti-like brain, while from the belly a squirming mess, rather similar in appearance, obtrudes.

    Iconographically the 'Carnivore' might be a variant on the theme of 'homo homini lupus est', though presented in a spirit of black humour and heavy irony. It is impossible to say whether Wade had Goya's great 'Saturn' in mind when this picture was conceived, but the two do seem to be related, at least in terms of their brutal directness and general theme. Similar in flavour to 'Carnivore' is the 'Female Figure' reproduced in plate I. Here the hallowed theme of the female nude has suffered considerable violence. Again one feels that Wade has poured his bitterness and frustration into this conception, as though he wished to hit out at the human race generally, if only through his art. Works such as these, while they do remain impressive in their brutal directness and sheer sincerity, are ultimately marred by a certain naivety and even shallowness. The fury they express seems almost adolescent in character. In this they are reminiscent of certain of the less inspiring aspects of early 20th century German Expressionism.