American artist and Slade School of Fine Art graduate, Monica Perez Vega, has always been interested in capturing the ever-changing, seasonal state of the world around us. During lockdown, the artist was inspired by Britain’s landscape, painting trees which she discovered during daily walks through urban spaces and the countryside. With this exhibition, Perez Vega transports us into an enchanted forest, in which 23 magically-coloured trees symbolise stability, endurance and renewal.
“I think one thing we all noticed with lockdown was the stillness. Stillness opens us to observation; an inward alertness. Having moved around a lot, this is something I try to carry with me; an openness to experience place with mindful curiosity. Trees are, of course, embodiments of stillness and stability.”
Pink and Blue Tree, ink, watercolour on bockingford paper, 56 x 76 cm, 2020, £300
Green and Blue Tree, ink, watercolour on bockingford paper, 56 x 76 cm, 2020, £300
Richmond Park, 30 x 40 cm, ink and watercolour and acrylic gesso on canvas, 2020 £180
Freckled, 30 x 40 cm, ink and watercolour and acrylic gesso on canvas, 2020 £180
Flirt, 30 x 40 cm, ink and watercolour and acrylic gesso on canvas, 2020. £180
An exceptional colourist, Perez Vega joins the likes of David Hockney and Peter Doig in painting evocative landscapes you want to explore. There is an entrancing, dream-like quality to each of these 23 trees created at the intersection of memory, reality and imagination.
Yellow Core, ink, watercolour on bockingford paper, 56 x 76 cm, 2020. £300
Red Shoots, ink, watercolour on bockingford paper, 56 x 76 cm, 2020. £300
Blue Shoots, ink, watercolour on bockingford paper, 56 x 76 cm, 2020. £300
Perez Vega is originally from California, and her colourful trees – imagined in vivid blues, warm reds and golden yellows – also evoke her homeland:
“Maybe it’s my own transience that has led me to an interest in trees. They are markers of time, place and home, and it was the realisation that I would not be able to go home this Summer that led me to paint the tree stumps, such as Red Shoots, Blue Shoots, Yellow Core”.
These remarkable paintings explore the connection between place, identity and belonging. The heightened colours of the trees are tinged with nostalgia for places far away from us, across time and space. You can almost feel the warm air of America’s West Coast infiltrating imaginative paintings such as ‘Hollowed Blue’ and ‘Remembering that Patch’.
Hollowed Blue, 130 x 200 cm, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 2020. £2800
Purple Moss, 30 x 40 cm, ink and acrylic on canvas, 2020. £400
Remember that Patch, 30 x 40 cm, ink, watercolour and spray paint on canvas, 2020. £200
Remembering That Spot, 30 x 40cm, acrylic, ink and watercolour on canvas, 2020. £200
Many of the artworks were creating using inks and watercolours. Perez Vega embraced accidental and incidental moments, allowing herself to be guided by these fluid media. She sees this process as “reflective of life experiences” in which we must allow for change and transformation beyond our control:
“All things in nature must adapt to the uncontrollable elements forced upon them and I am seeking to capture that which is on the verge of either renewal or collapse. Amid the relentless story of progress and the ever-changing state of all things, I look to nature for signs of hope; of a promise of return.”
July Tree, Watercolour on Bockingford paper, 76 x 28 cm, 2020. £120
Blue Trees 2/7/8/9/13, watercolour on paper, 14.8 x 21 cm, 2020. £50 each
Above all, Perez Vega’s tree paintings represent resilience and renewal. In works such as ‘Pink Tree’, ink spills over and new stems stretch out, indicative of life emerging. In ‘Blue Tree 9’ buds and branches reach the corners of her paper. Nature continues to evolve, through the seasons, and these tree paintings celebrate those cycles to which we all belong:
“Emblems of endurance and resilience, trees adapt to surrounding elements, environments and actions, their forms and textures are responses to outside influences. Death and decay are ongoing interests for me, within the cycle of all things- because within death and disruption, there is also the promise of renewal. A new season; new life; new possibilities.”
The Willows, 30 x 40 cm, acrylic, spray paint and oil on canvas, 2020. £400
Stranglehold 30 x 40 cm, acrylic, spray paint and oil on canvas, 2020. £400
Still Trees 1, Watercolour on Bockingford paper, 25.5 x 56 cm, 2020. £90
Still Trees 2, Watercolour on Bockingford paper, 25.5 x 56 cm, 2020. £90
Still Trees 3, Watercolour on Bockingford paper, 25.5 x 56 cm, 2020. £90
Monica Perez Vega has exhibited widely, with shows in London, Amsterdam, The Hague and California. She studied at California College of the Arts, San Francisco, before specialising in painting at the renowned Slade School of Fine Art.
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