Upcoming exhibition: Sick Nature

An Exhibition of Contemporary Artists at John Constable’s studio in Brighton. 11 Sillwood Road, Brighton, BN1 2LF.

May 6,7 May 13,14 May 20,21 and May 27,28

Sick Nature presents seven contemporary artists’ responses to the idea of nature and decay and John Constable’s Brighton studio. Constable knew William Blake and they often discussed drawings. Taking Blake’s poem The Sick Rose as a point of departure, the artists will explore the idea that beauty is decay and love is death, polar opposites speak to us of the breadth and depth of the human condition as communicated visually through art.

The artists include Natasha Kissell, Peter Harrap, David Freud & Debbi Mason, Alan Rankle, Gregory Smart, and Amy Alderson.

Natasha Kissel 

Soliloquy 120 x 80cm Natasha Kissel
Soliloquy, 120 x 80cm, oil on canvas, 2016

Natasha Kissell lives and works in Brighton having attended the Royal Academy Schools and Byam Shaw School of Art. She uses the landscape painting genre as a way of exploring strangeness and detachment from the physical world we live in, asking questions about the environment we are in, how culturally deemed places of “outstanding beauty” effect us, and whether that is jarred by the presence of a modern jutting angular building, the cute country cottage is replaced by what some may see as ugly and others may see as utopian.

Peter Harrap 

Oil Painting Fine Art Peter Harrap Constable and Brighton
Body in the Trunk, Peter Harrap, oil on paper, 2016
Etching Claude Fine Art Brighton Peter Harrap Constable Freud
Proof After Freud After Constable After Claude, Peter Harrap, Etching on Paper, 2016

Peter Harrap responds by perpetrating an act of violence on a tree trunk and a human trunk. One of the form of arboglyphs on a tree trunk and the other a scarred human trunk or torso.

“I’ve taken Constable’s idea of making ‘something out of nothing’ and tried to find equivalents in my own work. Just before Constable came to Brighton, he studied a picture by Claude of an old oak tree. It’s most likely that he made his famous ‘Study of the Trunk of an Elm Tree’ at some point over the summer of 1824 on one of his walks near Preston Place. Lucien Freud loved this picture, and in turn made it the subject of a painting and etching for his exhibition on Constable in Paris, 2002. I have further interpreted Lucian Freud’s etching and painting.”

Peter Harrap lives and works in John Constable’s Brighton Studio with Natasha Kissell.

David Freud & Debbi Mason

Recently Freud and Mason have looked at themes from the poetic to grotesque in nature. Their themes include asking the audience to examine the blurred lines between beauty and beast in human nature and the natural world.

David Freud

plague flea hill
Plague Flea and Hill, David Freud

David Freud struggles to unify the poetic with the grotesque, life with inert matter, light with darkness. Pawing obscurities long hidden in misty subconsciousness he blurs the lines between food and bad with the result being a surprisingly innocent beauty. David’s widely publicised and critically acclaimed work combines a wish for honest, openly vulnerable communication with the urge to escape from people into a personal, internal space.

Debbi Mason

Plague by Debbi Mason and Sophie Jelinek

“My art takes you on a colourful journey from inside my head. It is my most effective form of communication; everything i wish i could put into words, but have never been able to do so effectively. I would like to think that my work is thought-provoking and sometimes confrontational.” – Debbi Mason.

Alan Rankle

Alan Rankle 'Untitled Painting XXI' 2016 oils on canvas 100x100cm
Untitled painting XXI, Alan Rankle

In his latest series of painting Rankle continues his preoccupation with revitalising the tradition of landscape art within the context of our post-industrial, and arguable pre-apocalyptic, world.

“In these recent works, he seems to treat the whole history of landscape painting as a ‘found object.’ He fuses aspects of Classical and Romantic painting with Abstract Expressionistic gestures; he paints trompe l’oeil elements as though from a 19th Century naturalist’s journal. He knowingly references conceptual asides to provide an undercurrent of contemporary unease. All these elements collide as portentous montages in the paintings, depicting a world of splintering and fragmenting towards chaos, yet still evoking an eerie, and somehow threatening, illusion of harmony.” Judy Parkinson, from the catalogue for the exhibition ‘Pastoral Collateral’.

Gregory Smart

greg smart
Untitled, 2017, Greg Smart

Lucid somnambulism is the condition. New objects, organic, human and otherwise emerge from fungal rich brush work, graphic incident, descriptive drawing. Narratives are conjured, only to be withdraw,, meanings withheld. No one thing alone. one thing begets another. Recognisable forms bloom and fizz at their edges, like sun-damaged fruits. Acidic Chinese whispered ripple like smoke rings. Still new forms are proposed in the intersections between shapes. Especially in the jungle, the mind finds a face, the perceptual default setting of all humans. Northern pastel rises into southern tropical colour then gives way to flood stitched phosphorescence, and back again. a cycle, day night, passion ennui, life death. Diurnal blacks create zones for our own projections, like the green screen of the contemporary film studio.


Amy Alderson 

amy alderson
Untitled, 2017, Amy Alderson, California

Within an upside-down world of sexual pleasure

Dreams and desires are tainted by secrecy and shame

The scene if the kitsch fake beauty of plastic fantastic LA

Gloom, half-light & illumination

Amy went to Hampstead Art School, Central Saint Martins and has exhibited at the RA and the British Museum, as well as working as an artist on film productions and videos for Channel Four.