Ione & Mann

Alice Kemp: In the Night Garden

Hosted by: Ione & Mann


This exhibition has already taken place

What's On / Past exhibitions / Alice Kemp: In the Night Garden

Past Exhibition Information

Sept. 14, 2022 - Sept. 25, 2022

Gallery 12


Ione & Mann

Press Release

New paintings by the British-based artist explore the beauty, simplicity and ephemerality of the natural world; revealing and celebrating the hidden wonders of the domestic garden.

Alice Kemp has long found inspiration in nature and the beauty of the inherent imperfection and asymmetry of nature in what she describes as a “crookedness”. Her practice focuses on traditionally decorative subjects including plants, flowers and landscapes, partly as a deliberate act of defiance against long-standing stereotypes and preconceptions about subject, style and gender in painterly discourse. Seeking joy and expression in her work, she treats all styles, materials and subjects equally, challenging the pairing of femininity with the decorative distinctions between high and low art.

Over the years, Kemp has painted natural forms inspired by her travels in Europe and Japan, long walks along the British countryside and London’s gardens and parks. In March 2020, as the world shifted and paused, the artist moved her studio to her garden and faced with a new normal, which included first-time motherhood for the artist, Kemp set out to explore a world closer to home.

The title of the exhibition is, like most of her paintings’ titles, descriptive and literal; Kemp used her garden as a primary source of inspiration and she would often paint in the evenings. But it also invites introspection, a gentle exploration that holds possibility and promise, offering a glimpse of an enchanted, tranquil dream world which at night seems well within reach.

Kemp’s Night Garden is equally domestic and curiously enchanting. The starting point is not just observation but an immersion in a sensory experience and a genuine connection with nature. Embracing burgeoning life as well as perishability, Kemp creates vibrant, atmospheric, fantastical yet familiar landscapes manifesting rootedness and connection and, at the same time, freedom and potentiality.

The artist’s hand is very much visible and so are the conscious decisions about composition, expression and rhythm that often lead to delightfully unexpected, almost surrealist imagery. We see salad leaves dancing like falling autumn leaves, rhubarb shoots floating like waterlilies, suspended rocks, sparrows and pigeons camouflaged among exaggerated backdrops. The artist's work also feels expansive, independently of scale. Often paintings emerge as diptychs or triptychs but she tends not to be rigid about combinations, or orientation. She does, however, pay particular attention to texture and mark making. She shifts between gestural, expressive brushstrokes and hyper precise paint application all in a considered and deliberate manner, with every tiny mark and detail integral to the work.

Just like nature itself, Kemp’s style of painting is a rich world of oppositions – order and chaos, abstraction and figuration, density and lightness, harmony and dissonance, expression and restraint, minimalism and visual overload. But, as the artist says, nothing that lives is rigidly perfect or definable; among the crooked, entwined, unknowable, magical reality of life, lies its infinite beauty and potentiality.

Read a full interview with the artist here

Image: Alice Kemp, Sparrows in the Brambles, 2022, oil and acrylic on canvas, 122 x 152 cm. | Copyright Alice Kemp, Courtesy of IONE & MANN

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Ione & Mann

Ione & Mann

Established in 2015 with a primary focus on painting and drawing, the gallery has built a reputation for eclectic, immaculately curated exhibitions and its commitment to championing early career artists.

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