For the first time in history over half the world’s population lives in the city. A forthcoming exhibition at Orion Contemporary, curated by Christina Bohm and Christina Sanderson, takes the work of two British and two Swedish artists who present their vision of the increasingly blurred boundary between the urban and the rural.
Peter Ern’s paintings show us elements of 21st century life: soaring apartment blocks, subways and vast supermarkets and yet his work reminds us that the natural world, and trees in particular, remain part of life in the metropolis.
In contrast, Thomas Zornat’s strikingly monochrome paintings are more direct; leading us straight to an encounter with nature, just as the edge of civilisation, or confronting us with urban dwellings or dwellers.
Will Martyr’s playful paintings provide a fine contrast to those of Zornat. Both artists lean towards a photorealistic style: whilst Zornat paints each work in thick oils consisting of one base colour, Martyr selects a limited number of punchy and vibrant acrylics for each work. This approach conveys a certain nostalgia for a timeless and simplified optimism, reminiscent of post war modernism. Coupled with the painted titles we come to encounter an almost utopian place; urban yet natural.
Lucy Smallbone’s fluid painterly reality brings us firmly back into nature. Or do they? In the painted wilderness we encounter urban structures. The paintings move between depicting both an ideal and inhabitable place. The landscapes seem almost as though they are in a state of flux.
Urban Perspectives: British and Swedish Art Meet continues until 6 November.
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The artist and Orion Contemporary