Five Paintings That Inspire... Jen Gash, Landscape Artist Of The Year

If, like us, you’re an avid fan of Sky’s Landscape Artist Of The Year then you’ll be delighted to learn a little more about Jen Gash, the winner in 2018. Jen’s landscapes sit somewhere between literal representations and abstract dreamscapes. They hit you with their immediacy and ignite the imagination.

But perhaps above all else, it’s her choice of colour that cuts through to the core and lifts our emotions closer to the subject at hand.

We asked her to discuss five paintings (prior to 1970) that have inspired her approach and attitude.

"Initially I thought that choosing five pre-1970 works would be difficult as I have such a love of contemporary art, but it was very easy and difficult to limit myself to five! All artists are a product of what they see, experience, try, learn, who they meet and relate to and looking at the works I chose, I can really see how they have influenced me.

Paul Serusier, The Talisman

Paul Serusier Painting

I can’t express how important this painting has been to my development as an artist. Only about A4 in size, it is vibrant yet sensual, immediate yet thoroughly intentional. I love the palette of slightly off kilter green and blues that appear bright but are actually quite sombre. You can also see Gauguin’s influence on Serusier, especially in terms of colour. It is a gem. This painting impacted on me in many ways, not least reminding me of the power of small works.

Stanley Spencer, The Nativity

Stanley Spencer

I have been fairly obsessed with Spencer, especially since meeting his youngest daughter during my commission for the Imperial War Museum. Although I already loved his work, immersing myself in his life, as best one can, I found lots of synchronicities between our lives (yes that sounds weird I know!). I love this particular work as it marked the end of his Slade education and won him a prize for composition – composition is something I struggle with! I love the trellis fence, the slightly strange characters and the spiritual ideas and questions it provokes. Spencer’s later interest in resurrection after his war experience can already be seen here.

Paul Gauguin, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Paul Gauguin

I think this large painting was painted during a period of deep depression after Gauguin’s daughter died and he attempted suicide. The questions in the title make it clear that Gauguin was deeply questioning the meaning of life, charting the procession of life from left to right. The blue tones seem melancholic and together with the poses of the figures, it’s easy to see how low he was at this time.

James McNeill Whistler, Nocturnes - Various

James McNeill Whistler Painting

I actually can’t decide which is my favourite painting of Whistler’s nocturnes – they are all so special to me. I love the softness of the images, the often narrow, almost monochrome palette and the eerie feeling they evoke. When brighter colours are used, the ochres, golds and blues are exquisite and painted in such a “modern” way for the period. I had long wanted to paint at night and when I had to paint Brighton Pier for the competition, I was so excited. Whistler was one of the artists I turned to in search of inspiration.

Richard Diebenkorn, Woman In A Window

Richard Diebenkorn

In general, Diebenkorn fascinates me as he worked both with abstract and figuration in parallel. He seemed comfortable to paint a landscape or figure one day and then a highly conceptual abstract work the next. In “Woman in a Window” we see the back of a seated woman, who is looking out of a window, with her head resting on her hand. So many things fascinate me about this painting: I love the quite crudely painted hands which despite their simplicity, hold together well; I love the shadow under her hand; the patterned fabric on the chair seems to glow.

Multiple questions come to mind like “what is she thinking about?”, “is she melancholic”, “perhaps she is just relaxed/peaceful looking at the sea?”, “does she want to escape and run on the beach and swim in the sea…?” That last one might give you a clue as to how this painting resonates with me!"

You can learn more about Jen Gash at www.jengash.co.uk or on Instagram @jengash.

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