LUKE ELWES: THE OSEA PAINTINGS
Chardin might have been speaking for all painters when he said of painting that, "it was an island whose shore I have skirted". In a series of large abstract paintings that emerge directly out of his two-year long investigation of the landscape of Osea island Luke Elwes takes Chardin's evocative metaphor and gives it shimmering new resonances. A few hours' drive from London, Osea's wild, flat marshlands and empty, windswept skies have become for the artist a point of departure and a place of return. Dore Ashton wrote of Robert Motherwell, "He travels abroad and in doing so returns to his own source."
For most of Luke Elwes' artistic career he has travelled and painted. But he is no travel painter. His extensive journeys, and through them his exposure to the culture, beliefs, and landscape of others, have acted as a catalyst for his own line of enquiry into the nature of our relationship to the world. This exploration can be traced back to the artist's decisive encounter with the desert at the start of the 1990s. After a decade of journeys to distant parts of the world the Central Australian Desert, East Africa's Great Rift Valley, New Mexico, Mount Kailash in Tibet and Cappadocia in Turkey there is implicit in the new work a sense of homecoming.
The artist's acute observation of the physical world, his preoccupation with the flow of time and matter as it is manifested on Osea, rewards us with canvases suffused with ambient light and the colours of water where it breaks and dissolves into earth. Luke's paintings brim with the luminous silence of an intimacy that approaches awe and derives from a kind of looking that has been described as tenderness towards experience. It is this quality of felt intimacy that draws us so compelling into the paintings' sphere, holds and instructs us there.
In the summer of 2002 Luke will continue his investigation of islands when he visits a wild, coniferous-forested granite island off Maine's rugged coast. Ospreys are the guardians of this far-flung piece of wilderness. Osea and Osprey Islands will both feature in Luke's first exhibition with Art First New York in October 2002.
Clare Cooper and Fiona Donnelly
ART FIRST LONDON 10 APRIL - 9 MAY 2002
ART FIRST NEW YORK 16 OCTOBER - 15 NOVEMBER 2002