It’s an uplifting story; three distinguished and wholly different abstract painters who’d never met joining forces online during lockdown to instigate the Landscapes Within exhibition at Darle and the Bear in Woodstock.
Meeting collectively for the first time at the recent exhibition opening, the trio Jen Gash, Justine Formentelli and KV Duong had until then colluded on Landscapes Within via Zoom and Instagram.
Justine had realised that their collective work, although very different, had some really strong parallels running through it and contacted Julie Wigg at Darle and the Bear about a group exhibition.
The results are simply stunning, the symbiosis of their work flowing throughout, from Jen Gash’s immersive work around water, KV‘s exploration of migration and cultural assimilation seen through the prism of his Vietnamese heritage, and Justine‘s study of interior reality versus the external world using the potency of white space.
“I gave myself liberty to be more imaginative, to be less strict about telling the story, to be more narrative,” KV Duong
“We were looking for a way to exhibit together and it happened really organically. We collaborated by Zoom and looked at each other’s work on Instagram and just gelled really nicely,” Jen elaborates.
“I had too much language swirling around and it got too much and stopped me working. I needed to simplify everything” Justine Formentelli
“The exhibition is about more than abstraction, it’s about dealing with our inner narratives, a way of encouraging our internal and psychological landscapes,” KV explains.
A lockdown good news story then? “Well yes but then Covid changed the way many artists worked. I had a really good mental clear out and focused on my key messages and values. I had too much language swirling around and it just got too much and stopped me working. I needed to simplify everything,” Justine says.
“I gave myself permission to let go a bit, to use more paint and be more expressive, to embrace my work” Jen Gash
Jen agrees: “I decided that creating my art had to be fun, especially during a time when there was no certainty, so I gave myself permission to let go a bit, to use more paint and be more expressive, to embrace my work, and I started to feel a lot better.”
KV’s attitude was similar: “I gave myself liberty to be more imaginative, to be less strict about telling the story, to be more narrative,” he says, “I’d been too strict about abstraction until then, but Covid gave me the time and insight to change that – to be more bold.”
“And then to come out of that and be able to show our art in person again was so exciting. I’m really proud of the exhibition,” Jen says as they nod in agreement, “and proud to be exhibiting with these two.
“I think people will enjoy it because it takes you on a journey, one we were all familiar with.”
Landscapes Within runs at Darle and the Bear in Woodstock until November 20. for more information go to https://www.darleandthebear.co.uk/exhibitions/12-landscapes-within-jen-gash-justine-formentelli-and-kv-duong/