One of the fundamental jobs of the artist is
to open people's eyes to finding beauty where they don't think it
resides. - David Hepher
This January, Flowers Gallery is pleased to
present a new series of works by renowned painter of the
contemporary urban landscape, David Hepher.
For more than fifty years, Hepher has painted
domestic buildings, from suburban houses to modern tower blocks,
capturing the formal beauty of their grid-like structures as well
as the physical and emotional residues left by their human
inhabitants. Pavement Horizons marks a distinct shift in
viewpoint and scale. Honing in on the juncture at which the
buildings rise from the ground, Hepher's latest works present an
intimate record of an ordinarily overlooked aspect of the landscape.
Each painting portrays a life-size frontal view
of a section of concrete wall and the right angle it forms with the
pavement. Returning to the same London street over several
months to draw and take photographs, Hepher has documented the
detailed shifts in tonality and figuration present on the
architectural facades and the weathering of the surface over time.
Described by the artist as "simply recording
what is there", Hepher's process incorporates chance encounters and
found materials. Literally appropriating the formal substance of
his subjects, each canvas is prepared with a brutally rendered
concrete ground. Referencing works by artists such as the Boyle
Family, whose three-dimensional casts formed physical imprints of
the earth, Hepher's surfaces are smeared and perforated to
replicate the builder's application of architectural textures.
On the one hand the paintings appear wholly
abstract, the opaque tangibility of the concrete holding the eye on
the surface; on the other they evoke the vastness of nature and
seemingly eternal horizon of the sublime landscape.
The titles of works in the exhibition suggest
devastatingly powerful natural phenomena such as storms, cyclones
and tsunamis; while, in a reference to human displays of force, the
painting Shock and Awe calls to mind the media images
released during the American military bombing of Iraq in 2003.
Other titles have art historical sources, such as The Monk by
the Sea, named after the Caspar David Friedrich painting in
which an isolated figure contemplates an unending expanse of ocean.
Despite the reduction in size from his
monumental tower block paintings, the human scale of the new works
places the viewer in close physical proximity to the subject.
In contrast to the "austere beauty" presented by the tower blocks,
Hepher's new works invite intimate reflection on the quiet
aesthetic qualities of these frequently bypassed details of modern life.