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JONATHAN PURDAY | NEW SCREENPRINTS LAUNCH

September 20th 2015
Primarily a painter, Jonathan Purday explores the medium of screenprinting for the first time to present his two brand new editions ‘Meditation in Red’ and ‘Canopy Memories’. Angie talks about the making of the work at Jealous print studio during the summer.

We’ve been working with Jonathan Purday for over 10 years now, and have always felt inspired by his work. Fans of British band Gomez may recognize it from their 2002 album ‘In Our Gun’, which used one of his paintings on its cover. Since then however, the subject matter has changed somewhat. Extremely observational, Jonathan’s work is very strongly linked to his personal experiences and when he was living in London in the early 2000s, his paintings were quite urban-focused, featuring scenes such as parking lots. A few years later he spent some time living in Portugal, and it was here that rural scenes became more frequent. Although he’s now living back in the UK, his focus is still on the natural world, with him more likely to paint forests, mountains and lakes seen on recent travels than the city street scenes that surround him.

The two new prints we’re presenting today are Jonathan’s first screenprint editions and very much complement his body of original canvases. His painting style of block colours built up in layers translates perfectly into the medium of printmaking, and once he started working on the true grains (the acetate drawings that make up each screen), he was like a fish to water at the print studio where he spent some time creating each screen one by one.

The images he’s created for the prints draw on the current recurring motif of the lone, totemic tree, exploring light, colour and evocative depth that have been a feature in many of Jonathan’s recent paintings. The vibrant Meditation in Red was made with reference to a previous painting of Jonathan’s titled ‘Haiku Memory’, and pays homage to Japanese printmaking and the imagistic text that characterises the 17-syllable Japanese Haiku poems. The trunk of the tree is dominant as it extends across the page diagonally, leading to the beautiful canopy of reds and pinks that allude to blossom or autumnal leaves. But what strikes me most about this piece is the deep blue sky, which has been excellently blended to appear lighter at the bottom of the page, gradually getting darker at the top. I’d never seen this done before in screenprinting and print technician Danny has achieved it perfectly by placing a lighter shade at the base, getting darker and darker towards the top, then pulling it through in one screen to create the graduated tonal change. With 12 layers of colour in total, this print is a complex work of contemplation, and one can imagine the branches gently swaying in the summer breeze.

The second print Canopy Memories is sparser in composition and takes a simpler form with 7 layers of colour. Again it sees the artist opt for the striking blended backdrop, this time beginning darker at the bottom of the page and getting lighter as we look up towards the sun. This piece is a more personal work for the artist. At school he often climbed trees in the neighbouring meadows with a friend and fellow student to sit and bask in the sun to escape the relentless school routine and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The height and scale of the tree feels exaggerated, perhaps a nod to the childhood view of everything feeling so huge, but also to emphasize the power of being a watcher, and for Jonathan, there’s a subtext, along with fond memories here of a quiet rebellion. This piece is inspiring, uplifting and optimistic, with the fresh colour palette adding to an overall feeling of well being.

Meditation in Red and Canopy Memories are both original screenprint editions of 50. See them in more detail and see more work by Jonathan Purday here.
ANGIE DAVEY
Creative Director
 
JONATHAN PURDAY JONATHAN PURDAY
Meditation in Red Canopy Memories
 
 
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