Grenville’s upcoming London solo show
We live in troubling times. Chaos abounds at home, abroad there is war and repression. Some artists choose to comment on the strife and struggle they observe around them, others choose to find meaning in intimacy. In 1943, when Nazi jackboots strutted down the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, both Bonnard and Matisse, whose studios were only a few kilometres away, elected to lift their heads beyond the daily horror of the Occupation. Instead they were hard at work on a series of paintings of domestic subjects: garden scenes, still life arrangements and figure studies, explorations of glorious colour harmonies that exude a robust optimism in the face of danger and despair. Their paintings expressed a full-blooded sense of existence through the transforming power of colour and light.
Although I started out as a sort of social commentator in paint 30 years ago (David Messum once promoted me as a ‘modern day Hogarth, in the style of Sickert’) my painter’s journey has taken me, via the expressive language of French Post-Impressionism, into the rich pastures of English Romanticism. In a world where satire and irony lead the fashion, I intend my work to stand as a passionate defence of beauty and domestic harmony, as a symbol of hope and promise. The collection of paintings in this exhibition, all made over the last couple of years, share in a common a quest to conjure the lyrical and the dreamlike, to present an inner world at peace with itself. To achieve this, I have tended to work away from the subject, allowing memory and reflection to seep into the process, so that each picture is a distillation of experience, a reinvention of my imagination, rather than a straight record of a place or an arrangement of objects. By restricting the colours in my palettes to only one or two primaries and one or two secondaries, I have been able to better explore colour harmony, which seems to me to work in a similar way to the keys in music, where the greatest expressiveness is achieved within a restricted hierarchy of notes.
The pictures in this show are largely inspired by my home and garden, and by two much loved areas of countryside: the wild, romantic shoreline of the Cornish coast, and the deep sultriness of the Midi. But all the paintings here, the figure subjects, the interiors and the landscapes, have at their heart the principal intention to deploy the abstract elements of picture making. These include the arrangements of shape, colour, line, pattern, and the sense of light achieved through variation in tonal values – in the pursuit of exploring timelessness, of connecting us to time past, present and future, to both the visible world and the invisible.
“What an absolutely stunning show – a wonderful freedom, joy and clarity of light and colour; an intelligence and emotional undertone in Grenville’s figures.”
The Preview of Grenville’s London Exhibition is on Tuesday 14 March at Cricket Fine Art from 6-8pm
Links to high res pictures in the exhibition and of Hugo Grenville here https://www.artworkarchive.com/rooms/angie-321b29ff-bb38-4aeb-bb76-a5d8623d7add/15d586