Leyden Gallery, March-April 2014
Darkness Visible celebrates a new body of work by the brilliant young artist Jake Wood-Evans. Taking inspiration from the works of Baroque Old Masters such as Diego Velázquez, Sir Thomas Lawrence and George Stubbs, Wood-Evans’ dramatic use of light, whilst echoing the sense of their ‘Old Mastery’, also unsettles it.
Evoking faded memories and spectres of a past time, this collection of oil paintings depicts disintegrating and dissolving moments. His powerful use of light emerges from a loose and instinctive use of paint, where bold brush strokes, dripping oils and scored surfaces sit cheek by jowl with fine, delicate detail, luminous skin and intense, rich layers of colour. Eyes, heads or limbs are scraped away or deformed. Traces and marks remain visible in the paint as it is built up leaving the trail and record of those traces behind them.
Classical colour pallets with warm, earthy colours are a relatively new feature in Wood-Evans' work, marking a divergence from the deep blues and purples of previous collections. Speaking of his work Wood-Evans claims 'the paintings become intense labours of love. I enjoy learning everything I can from the images I'm working from. But I have to get to a point where I start taking risks. I have to get close to losing control and obliterating the whole thing - then something interesting can happen'. In so doing he creates resonant, distorted echoes and impressions of a past that is re-contextualised by the fading grandeur of history, giving the resulting work a distinctly contemporary feel.
Darkness Visible - selected works
Portrait of Pope Innocent X, after Diego Velázquez, 122 x137cm, oil on linen
Portrait of a woman with pearls, 90x80cm, oil on linen
Portrait of Retrato de Juan Pareja, after Diego Velázquez, 90x80cm, oil on linen
Portrait of a young woman, after Rembrandt, 48x39cm, oil on wood
Study of lady with a squirrel and a starling, 48x39cm, oil on wood
After Sir Thomas Lawrence, 48x39cm, oil on wood
Portrait of Infanta Maria Teresa, after Diego Velazquez, 48x39cm, oil on wood
After François Boucher, 80x80cm, oil on wood