Dramatically-scaled paintings by contemporary artist Thomas Newbolt explore the very essence of painting: the paradoxes of light and dark, psyche and body, figure and ground. Such liminal spaces are where Newbolt finds a vital potency: “I’m interested in the emotional area the painting opens up, so when I stand back I feel its true”. Layering undiluted oil paint in vigorous impasto, the paintings have a physical depth mirroring their expressive complexity.
His women often arrive at dusk or in the half-light, when he’s working in a way he calls arbitrary, but which isn’t quite. Still able to read the labels on the tubes without properly seeing the colours, knifing on sculpted reefs of the purest and most expensive oil paint, impulsively scraping them out, he loops in the backgrounds with big, curving knowingly generic brush marks.
“She feels like a nice person,” says Thomas Newbolt, gazing at the female presence in one of his recent paintings with an expression of faint wonder; then, as he fastens on another sharper-eyed figure, “She looks like she could get up and bite you in the face.”
Newbolt’s dedication to the figure in art has gained him international recognition. He was Harkness Fellow at the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin, and a Fellow- Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge, as well as a highly respected teacher at Camberwell School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and the Royal Drawing School, London. Recent exhibitions include Ely Cathedral, the Estorick Collection, and a group show, Vital Signs, at Clifford Chance in 2015, and his work is held in major international public collections.