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ESCAPE TO THE SUNSHINE | NEW PAINTINGS BY JONATHAN PURDAY

January 10th 2014
There’s something very fresh and new about Jonathan Purday’s most recent series of paintings. Continuing to focus on landscapes he’s experienced, both in the Algarve area of Portugal where he spent some time living in recent years and in Cornwall in the UK where he visited last summer, these new canvases are more complex and accomplished than previous works, almost as if Purday has ‘found his feet’ so speak with his subject matter and matured into his style of working.

His palette remains bright and powerfully tonal, with light playing a major part. Wanderer is a moving example of this. Taking its inspiration (and title) from the 19th century German Romantic painter Casper David Friedrich’s The Wanderer (1823), this piece encourages us not to look through the eyes of Friedrich’s explorer, marvelling at nature at its most sublime, but instead at the tourist who has seemingly wandered improbably onto a perilous outcrop of eroded Portuguese rocks that overhang the Atlantic. For Purday, this painting is not only a nod to the beauty of the natural scene and the way the light reflects off the sea and rocks, but also a comment on tourism and the ‘voyeuristic’ culture that we are all participants in. There’s certainly something magical about this piece, but with slightly uneasy undertones as the rock façade and the gaping shadow it creates gives an ambiguous and almost sinister edge.

Trend Vacuum 5 is of a similar ilk to Wanderer but larger in size and ‘portrait’ in orientation. In this painting the viewer is brought closer into the landscape which intensifies the sense of the looming rock face. Even more so in this piece than in the last there’s a sense of feeling vulnerable and as if you’re being watched. Again the brilliant light and airy colours - especially that gorgeous turquoise that provides the base of the work - trick you into a false sense of security as the feeling of impending disaster remains.

Green Healing sees Purday move away from the Algarve and back to the UK. The inspiration from this piece came during a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, some of the best-known botanical gardens in the UK. Like the tree it features, this piece is large and imposing. Again, the viewer feels belittled by its vastness as they peer into the painting, up to the top of the tree. Purday continues to play with our emotions by creating a sense of escapism but also fear. I love the detail in the piece and the intricate patterns that have been created in the bark of the trunk and in the tall leaves that almost touch the sun.

Something new with this painting is the use of collage, which has appeared in previous works but not so obviously. On the left hand side it’s almost as if a curtain is coming across the landscape as Purday introduces an element of abstraction. This dream-like gesture plays with our ideas of reality, which relates back to the artist’s interest in film stills and staging and adds a new element of complexity to these stunning creations.

See all the new pieces in more details along with other work by Jonathan Purday here.
ANGIE DAVEY
Creative Director
JONATHAN PURDAY
Wanderer
 
 
JONATHAN PURDAY JONATHAN PURDAY
 Green Healing
 
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