Findlay Galleries is pleased to present the exhibition, Juxtaposition & Composition, showcasing the colorful portrait and landscape works by leading British Romantic painter, Hugo Grenville.
Grenville refers to himself as a romantic but acknowledges a fascination with pattern and color that places him in the tradition of Henri Matisse. The figures and the everyday objects that surround them in his paintings express his joy in life, light, and color. Less evident, but equally important, is a feeling of intimacy that recalls Matisse contemporaries, Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard. It is here that we see Grenville being influenced by the principles of Les Nabis – a group of young post-impressionists, avant-garde Parisian artists of the 1890s who influenced the fine arts at the turn of the century. One of the Les Nabis’ goals was to integrate daily life into their paintings and cover a flat surface with colors assembled in a certain order, as we see Grenville doing with such grace and sensitivity. Layers of feeling peel back to disclose a spiritual intensity. In the artist’s words, “the world around us becomes a poem revealing something about how it feels rather than how it looks.” Grenville also describes himself as a colorist. His palette is bright and jaunty: lemon yellow, violet, mauve, and pale blue are colors that appear regularly in his paintings. “The sea does not have to be the blue that you saw,” he explains. “It can be pink, or it might be red, or it might be violet. There is this sense that we can use color as a tool for linking the viewer with the emotional experience of being in the landscape.”
Several years ago, Grenville and his family moved from London to the “Red House” in Waveney Valley, Suffolk. The house, dating to 1650, still has a Georgian façade, beautiful old shutters, and many other period details, Grenville’s passion for color, so evident in his art, lead him to paint the interior peacock green, duck egg blue, and violet – bright, bold hues the Georgians would have used. The rooms of the “Red House” provided the backgrounds for several of Grenville’s interior and still life paintings. He now paints ceaselessly in his Dorset garden studio, which he shares in summer with his students. In addition to teaching, he is a gifted lecturer with extensive knowledge of art history and a writer whose articles on painting appear regularly in The Artist Magazine.
“My paintings are an unashamed and joyous celebration of life, a passionate defense of beauty and domestic harmony, steeped in the English Romantic tradition. I would like the work to stand as a symbol of promise, and to express our sense of existence through the recognition of the transforming power of color and light.
Through the arrangement of shape, line, pattern, and color, I try to conjure the lyrical and the dreamlike, a place at peace with itself. The still life and figure paintings do not generally represent an actual moment in time but are rather the result of a process of reflection, recollection, and reinvention, a distillation of human experience. The flowers in the jug or the nude on the bed belong not to now, but to all time, just as the abstract elements of color and light are timeless and connect us to both the past and the future, to the visible world, and to the invisible.”
– Hugo Grenville