According to Greek mythology, Arcadia was the home of Pan, the god of the wild, and in the exhibition of the same name, Karl Maughan's most recent paintings exhibit an exuberance of colour and texture that is kept in check by the painter’s careful composition.
In Belleknowes the strong verticals of electric blue delphiniums and red cockscomb thrust up against the rounded forms of the background trees and other border perennials. Drooping foliage draws the eye down to the centre of the canvas, balanced by a patch of manicured path leading off into the lower right corner. Single flowers are a controlled flurry of paint as Maughan layers colour upon colour and, as the individual blooms combine to create a single plant, so the individual elements of the painting fit together as a unified whole.
Musselburgh and Ravensbourne evoke a dark, slightly menacing beauty. The canvases are filled with foliage, and the small glimpse of a faraway sky in Ravensbourne does not allay a feeling of enclosure. Rather than a light, open vista, here the viewer seems to peer from the shadows to a lush glen beyond. In greens and dark teals, weeping foliage dominates the foreground, issuing an invitation to push it aside and follow the glowing scarlet and purple flora further into the depths of the garden. Maughan asks viewers to enter - if they dare.
Like the mythological Arcadia, the composite garden-scapes depicted by Maughan do not exist in reality but come from the imagination of the artist. Using a palette of jewel-like hues, he paints flowers and foliage as they would be in an eternal garden – in bright, full bloom, untouched by time or decay, their cultivated facades hiding a wild beauty.