Browse & Darby are proud to present their first exhibition of work by contemporary artist Nicholas Rena (b.1963).
Twenty works, ordered formally over the three floors of the gallery, will proceed from deep greens through rich reds and purples to a top floor of bright yellows and lilacs. The title of the show, a line from a Leonard Cohen song, suggests a ritualised and romantic set of encounters, as do the titles of the works themselves, which are taken from the T. S. Eliot poem, Ash Wednesday.
Nicholas Rena creates monumental, imposing vessels, with thick walls and definite flat rims. They are meticulously finished and painted and are press moulded in clay, which the artist finds both ‘precise and sensual’.
Rena’s work is concerned with uniting figure with landscape, emptiness with fulfilment. The vessels, so evidently empty, have the capacity to be filled and their variety of soft, sumptuous and celebratory colours reflect how an encounter (both in nature and with another person) can move between absence and fulfilment.
This group of vessels, like nature, all reach up towards the heavens or the sun, through which Rena aims to give form to one’s own abstract longings. Rena describes this sentiment as ‘the human figure relates to the world in a forward way, while nature (like the spirit and the vessel) relates upward.’ It is evident that there is a direct influence from artists such as Anthony Caro and Henri Matisse in Rena’s use of form and colour.
Rena’s work includes the acclaimed Jerwood prize installation (2008) and is represented in the permanent public collections of the Louvre, Paris, the V & A Museum, the British Council, No.10 Downing Street, London, and the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, USA, amongst others.