Paul Woodruffe | In the Garden
Paul Woodruffe’s exhibition brings together the artist’s love for Medieval garden paintings and patterns found in Eastern fabrics and ceramics. The garden represents the harmonious relationship humans can have with both the natural world and their subconscious world, a harmony that has in many western based societies, been replaced by a retreat from reality. These paintings map this retreat.The figures navigate these gardens, and present simultaneously both a belonging and a disconnection, this dichotomy is shown through their composition of abstractions and mimicry of nature. These works are a celebration of the artist’s desire to be both connected to nature, and to be apart from it through the remaking of it in his own image.
In this body of work, it is the pre-renaissance art of Europe that provides the inspiration for the storytelling power of images, and the use of the garden as an allegory for the human condition. The work is in a style that expresses a deeply personal connection between subconscious thought and the physicality of making work. One question being asked by the artist is how can he absorb the myriad of visual cultures that surround us, and synthesize these through a clear vision of his own identity? Another question asked is how can a painting provide a retreat from reality – a retreat which circles back to alter the perception of that reality?
The answer could be found in the within the suggestive power of a story, the proposition that from one image there are endless possibilities for narrative, facilitating the bringing of reality closer to the world of dreams and the subconscious, the observer changing the nature of the observed. The artist chooses to work in way that speaks to the craft of painting as storytelling, rather than the craft of painting, this however is accompanied by a careful selection of pigments as an element of this storytelling.