The inspiration and starting point for this new body of paintings is Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen (The Waves of Sea and Love) by the Austrian dramatist Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872). This is a re-telling of the classical myth of Hero, the Greek priestess of Aphrodite at Sestos, who was seen at a festival by Leander of Abydos. They fell in love and he swam the Hellespont at night to visit her, guided by a light from her tower. One stormy night the light was extinguished and Leander was drowned; Hero, seeing his body, drowned herself.
This new exhibition has at its heart an allegorical painting in six parts: two large scale sea paintings - Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen part I and Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen part II; two large scale seated female figures - My nature yields, and yielding finds itself part III and You swam here, from Abydus distant shore part IV; and two medium sea paintings - Leander, Leander part V and Liebe, Liebe part VI.
I loved the story of Hero and Leander and wanted to create a cycle or suite of paintings about the sea in paint, the sea as motif, as metaphor and as a force of nature. This was not a specific identifiable sea, but the idea of the sea - the sea that divides lands, that can be vast and merciless, but also the feelings of longing and waiting that we often associate with the sea. I wanted to explore the waves and tides as a metaphor for our emotional states – the waves of sea and love.
Alongside, there is a series of figure paintings – Le Figure á Nu, eight paintings of the figure naked. And a series of ten experimental small format oils – Woman.
All these works are experiments in paint. The paintings of sea, the figure naked and the Woman series employ different approaches and techniques, but seek similar outcomes – how do we feel emotionally and physically when we look at them. All the canvases were painted with a white ground as I sought to retain the brightness of the colours. I wanted to feel the sea, so I used my hands to paint, and minimal brushwork, the paint smudged and smeared onto the canvas. I wanted to create great big ‘Romantic’ paintings about the sea. In the Woman series I mixed and thinned the paint in buckets, using linseed oil and solvent. I placed the canvases on the floor, upside down, with the heads towards me, to try and free myself from my usual easel or wall perspective. Paint was loaded onto brushes and laid or dripped onto the canvas from above, attempting to feel the sensation of the female body as I painted. As the paint could build up very thickly, I blotted the paintings back using newsprint. The challenge was further enhanced by the small format nature of the canvas.
In many ways this body of work is marked by transition and a further dialogue with the expressive qualities of the paint. It represents a development in my figure painting towards a more conceptual approach and an even more physical engagement with techniques and materials.
- Audrey Grant, July 2018
13 September - 28 September 2018
Panter & Hall
11-12 Pall Mall
Monday to Friday
10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
CLOSED BANK HOLIDAYS
If you are interested in any of the reserved paintings, it is worth contacting the gallery as there is a chance that they may become available.