Storm Clearing, Rooks Overhead by Richard Twose
The artist, who won the Victoria Art Prize last year, creates powerful, dreamlike canvases which feel both contemporary and classical.
Throughout the 90s Twose ran a successful jewellery business with his wife Karen selling their line of burnished gold, mythology-inspired pieces to Harvey Nichols, Paul Smith, Harrods, Theo Fennell and Barneys, New York. When the business went bust a decade ago he abandoned Clerkenwell and moved his family to a village near Bath.
He says: ‘All of a sudden we weren’t the new kids on the block any more and we didn’t have a business plan.’
Instead Twose began teaching History of Art and returned to his first love, fine art.
Flowers on the Table, currently on display at the Victoria Art Gallery, is typical of his work which seems to convey something intangible and other-worldly.
‘From that point of view we become ethereal and transient. So in this and other paintings the figure is difficult to see, blurred and fleeting.’
The flowers are symbolic of a Momento Mori, another suggestion of impermanence and change.
Also on show at the gallery is Snow Day, Twose’s portrait of his 16 year old daughter. Despite her sunglasses, we feel the subject’s unwavering gaze, another hallmark of Twose’s work.
“I find with portraits I need to build up many layers of transparent oil paint, often I have to remove a week or more’s work but I leave traces of what was done in a previous layer, until there is a kind of intensity to the gaze and a richness to the colour.”
His road paintings (main image), a series of landscapes featuring motorways, dual carriageways, flyovers, bring to mind the mid-century realism of Edward Hopper. The subject matter is dry yet the images are beautiful, exalting the ordinary and every day into something uplifting, mesmerising.
He says: “It struck me that most of us experience ‘landscape’ from our cars, the windscreen frames the view for us and it is constantly moving, but I think we don’t really ‘see’ anything, it is just a corridor, even an inconvenience. I wanted to look for beauty in the mundane.’