T H O M A S L A M B
8th November – 1st December 2017
Browse & Darby are proud to present the fourth solo show of work by British artist Thomas Lamb (b. 1978).
This exhibition will offer around thirty new paintings and drawings, including a series of distinctive pastel-hued works in oil and watercolour for which the artist is best known, alongside a collection of pencil, charcoal and ink drawings on paper.
Primarily a painter of landscapes, the strong sense of liminality, of the interconnecting space between what we see and what we hold in our imaginations, is fundamental to the poetry of Lamb’s work. Each painting begins with a walk; either through the bucolic hills and woodland surrounding his studio in Derbyshire, or the ethereal scenery of the Chubu district in Japan, where the artist has made frequent visits with his wife and fellow artist, Yuki. Preparatory sketches, drawn from observation, photography and memory, then form the foundation of each painting.
These uncanny landscapes, often bathed in glistening moon light or the haze of the rising sun, are softened by a blend of paint and pigment which produces a very particular sfumato effect typical of Lamb’s work. Delicately drawn trees and farm buildings furnish these deliberately ambiguous landscapes, punctuated by the occasional Virgilian figure, a solitary stag, or swooping bird; elements which act as intermediaries between the viewer and the fictitious realm of the picture space. The transformative effects of ephemeral weather conditions and subtle variations in light have intrigued the artist for many years, and his acute sensitivity towards such changes are manifest in iridescent layers of lilac, opal, emerald green and quartz pink.
The artist’s enduring love of Japan began as a student when he was seduced by the sense of calm order, harmony, and economy of line evident in work of the sixteenth-century Japanese painter, Hasegawa Tohaku. He explains the powerful manner in which Tohaku’s ‘landscape painting envelopes you’, an effect he endeavours to recreate in his own work. For example, Above the River at Dawn echoes Tohaku’s Pine Trees in its monochromatic colour and use of negative space. He explains that this fascination with Japanese art and culture, and the way in which ‘nature and the changing seasons are fundamental’ to their way of life, ‘resonates in my own experiences and visual language’. Indeed, some of the works in this show are based upon his experience of the mountainous region of Kamikochi in the Nagano prefecture, a protected National Cultural Asset of Japan renowned for its exceptional natural beauty. Nonetheless, in his choice of jewel-like colours the artist retains loyalty to European traditions closer to home, evoking the palette of Italian quattrocento masters such as Fra Angelico.
These works explore the boundary between perception and imagination. Lamb uses the transient nature of weather and light to maximum emotive effect in his canvases. The resultant images have an almost mystic quality, as he endeavours to capture the essential spirit of a place with the responsiveness indicative of a man of deep, contemplative nature.
Born in Lincolnshire, Lamb trained at the Wimbledon School of Art. He was awarded the Sainsbury Scholarship for Painting & Sculpture at the British School at Rome (2001-2003), and spent two years living and working in Italy, where he was greatly influenced by the masters of the Italian Renaissance. In 2006, he won the Prince of Wales Bursary for the Arts, Athens and has subsequently exhibited in several group shows include Responding to Rome at the Estorick Collection of Modern Art, London and Hyogo International Competition of Painting, Hyogo Museum of Art, Kobe, Japan. His work was included in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, Mall Galleries (2013) and he has had three solo shows with Browse & Darby, London (2008, 2011, 2014).