Tuesday, 23 July 2013


'Artifice of Paradise', works by Louise Thomas at the Bischoff/Weiss Gallery, Hay Hill, London W1J8NZ until 2.8.13

Hadrosaur Cove, 2013,Oil and acrylic on canvas.150 x 200 cm
Why Hadrosaurus? It's the name of a very important and a very obscure dinosaur. It was the first near-complete dinosaur skeleton ever to be discovered in North America (in 1858) and gave its name to a class of herbivores--the hadrosaurs or duck-billed dinosaurs.

In her paintings Louise Thomas has visited 1930's Italy, lidos, Victorian hospitals, American resorts, abandoned estates - and now amusement parks. In this exhibition she paints waterfalls, lazy rivers, exotic plants, craggy rocks - all the stuff that Romantic artists and painters of the Sublime have rejoiced in. We wander through hoping to catch fleeting moments of wonder. But instead of escape into tranquility and peace and Jurassic nostalgia, we have louder-than-life colours, modernist architecture and mechanical structures.

Jurassic Park, 2013, Oil and acrylic on canvas,150 x 200 cm

Which is exciting. The pastoral opens up surprises: for the moment the prehistoric world of dinosaurs is recovered and clashes with  a science and technology which is shaping our future.

But Thomas makes us look at our hopes as we plan for holiday paradise. We dream of tranquility while surrounded by crowds, crowds which at the same time re-inforce our belief that this is the place to be, while diluting our experience.

As the writer in the Artlyst link below puts it:
'(Thomas's) painterly brushstrokes highlight an abstracted sense of nostalgia and the failed space of holiday paradise...The paintings convey the cosmopolitan dream of escape mixed with the uncanny as they critique the mechanical structures of contemporary tourism, leisure, and entertainment industries'.

Artificial Spring and Palms, 2013,Oil and acrylic on canvas.150 x 200 cm




P.S. The colours remind me of a painter I hugely admire: the symbolist Odilon Redon.

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