Friday, September 25, 2015

Abstracting the English Countryside

I like to think that my paintings have meaning
and that meaning goes beyond being just pictures of things.” 
Lewis Noble

The London born artist Lewis Noble has been indulging himself in the very British pastime of capturing the English countryside, although it is the experience of it rather than its depiction that informs his landscapes.

As he told the Ainscough Contemporary Art gallery “Painting near my home and studio in the Peak District I have continuous exposure to the landscape that surrounds me. A great deal of my recent work has been spent outside painting directly from the landscape. I want to make paintings that are in immediate response to the sky, the land, and importantly, the transitions between them.

Unavoidably influenced by John Constable and JMW Turner, Noble’s works concentrate on the inherent drama therein ignoring the narrative.

An approach to his work that he explained in an interview about his yearlong residency at Derbyshire’s Chatsworth House “As a landscape painter I am always trying to find ways to include the human element in my work. The landscape around us is all a product of human intervention. English landscape is managed by people and therefore has a human quality. I tend not to include people in my work as I like the idea of the person standing in front of the painting being the only person in the landscape. If there is someone else there they intrude on the private experience. I want the paintings to stand in for the experience of being in the actual landscape. Once there is someone there, there is a narrative whether it’s intended or not. I think it’s a little the same with buildings. Once you start being really specific about an object especially one as well-known as Chatsworth House you start telling stories which isn’t where I want to be.

And with work that borders on abstract expressionism, Noble’s concern is about the viewer’s relationship with his landscapes.

As he says “I think that there are different relationships that paintings go through. I have a very personal relationship with them while they are in the studio. This is all about change and motion. The painting is never the same to look at from one day to next. It’s like going on a journey where you know the general direction but you never know the final destination until you get there. Sometimes it can be struggle and other times an easy path, but there’s no way of knowing which it will be at the outset. When a painting is finished it usually goes off to the gallery so I don’t tend to spend a lot of time with it in a completed state. It’s only when I next see it hanging in the gallery that I can be more objective about it and start to think about it as a finished painting. I think the relationship that a painting’s eventual owner has with it is very different to my own as they get to live with it for years. I like to think they have a positive effect on the lives of the people that own them.”

Noble’s current exhibition of New Paintings is on show at Derby’s Tarpey Gallery until the 31st of October.

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