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Posts from the ‘ArtistNews’ Category

Marrakech on Paper: The Majorelle Gardens with Majorelle Blue

The gift shop adjacent to the house of Jacques Majorelle was very chic. As touristic destinations go, it was very chic indeed – a true boutique – which exhibited all of the hallmarks of Yves Saint Laurent, the subsequent owner of this dazzling blue house and gardens. When, amongst the spectacular YSL pieces and beautifully crafted bottles of exotic Moroccan inspired perfumes I saw a pyramid formed from little cans of paint, my heart skipped a beat. It was Majorelle blue! And while the paint is clearly intended for outside use, I knew as soon as I saw it that with this actual authentic blue, I would paint a work dedicated to the garden: The Majorelle Gardens with Majorelle Blue!

The resulting work, posted here, focuses on the wonderful geometry of the 1920s construction at the heart of the gardens, whose cubist architecture reflects the trends of the time, while the arabesque and arches are truly Moroccan in character. But of course the real star is that ravishing colour, that blue so iconic amongst gardens. But as for the  diverse array of cacti which, in reality, almost hide the house, whose wavy, almost quivering shapes are like the hattifatteners of Tove Jansson, vibrating in the moonlight… these I confined to illustration in shadow, hinting at their presence, but not allowing it to dominate. It was a controversial choice for a garden so famous for its abundance, but in this painting I wanted the house, and the colour to shine. Not the plants.

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The Majorelle Gardens in Majorelle Blue (© 2017 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache and Majorelle blue on paper)

I have no idea whether the idea for painting garden walls this resplendent shade of blue came first from Majorelle or is more deeply imbedded into Arabic culture, but it’s funny to observe how entrenched this colour has become into the idea of the Moroccan garden. For me, the place was a true highlight of our Morocco trip, and this painting a highpoint of my Marrakech collection.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Marrakech on Paper: Tea at the Café de France

As The Daily Norm’s great Marrakech series continues, I am feeling as inspired to create artwork reflecting the trip as I am to share those special holiday moments with you on this blog. Looking back to one of my earliest posts, you will remember me telling you about our very fortuitous tea at the emblematic Cafe de France; fortuitous because of the luck we had in arriving just as the best corner table became free with its perfect view of the bustling Jeema el Fna square. Having since painted one of my favourite afternoon spots – the terrace at the Riad 19 La Ksour – it was perhaps inevitable that I would follow it with a depiction of that other great afternoon experience at the Cafe de France. After all, with its amazing sun set view, its charismatic zig zag floor and tiled walls, and the sun blinds up ahead creating cosiness to its well-appointed terrace, there were plenty of details at the Cafe de France to capture as I went about immortalising the occasion.

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Tea at the Café de France, Marrakech (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

The result is rather complex for a collection of gouache paintings otherwise characterised by their relative simplicity, but it makes for a fine addition to my collection of holiday illustrations, and another way in which our Marrakech trip will be long rooted in the forefront of my imagination.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Marrakech on Paper: Rooftop Afternoon at the Riad La Ksour

Our trip to Marrakech would have been half the experience were it not for the utterly comfortable, sensationally stylish and perfectly hospitable experience of staying in the Riad Dix Neuf La Ksour. Despite being located mere steps from the bustling Souks and the main Jemaa El Fna square, as soon as you walked through the discreet doorway into this traditional Moroccan home, it was like entering into a kind of parallel universe, where a haven of utmost tranquility ensnared the senses and provided complete rest in the very centre of Marrakech.

Like most Riads, La Ksour follows the traditional set-up of these ancient Moroccan houses, focusing around a cool patio garden with a pool at its centre before ascending to a resplendent roof terrace from which the views of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains beyond were all that they were promised to be.

It was on this roof terrace that we loved to pass an hour or so of each day, especially in the morning to hear the first early call to prayer, or later in the evening when sunset turned the pink city even rosier than usual. However under the sun of the mid afternoon, my favourite retreat would be to head for a lovely covered canopy on the terrace where an abundance of cacti and other succulent plants grew in ancient looking pots of every shape and size. The resulting corner was so cosy and green that I would never have known that around me temperatures were ascending to desert highs, and instead I would settle down there, usually alone, with my diary to hand, and write my account of our Marrakech experience.

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Rooftop Afternoon at the Riad La Ksour (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

This little painting, created with gouache on paper, captures that quaint corner and the moment in mid afternoon when I would enjoy it most. Painted in the same format as my Honeymoon Suite series of 2015, it represents a continuation of that collection, and of that same blissful feeling which made our original honeymoon travels so unique.

Thanks to the team at the Riad Dix-Neuf La Ksour for making our stay so comfortable, pampered and safe. You made it for us, and this painting is dedicated to you.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Marrakech on Canvas: Rose City Rooftops

I always find it interesting to observe a city from above. It offers something of a backstage perspective on people’s lives; the washing hanging out to dry, the old furniture dumped up on the roof forgotten, or the private pride which may be someone’s roof top garden, hidden from view from the streets below. I have already said that Marrakech is a city of extremes, and that somewhat bipolar personality extends to its buildings too. While the city has become a hotspot for those seeking Arabian luxuries in marble clad spas and lavish Riads, it is interesting to see that so often that extreme of wealth and aesthetic perfection extends to what is seen only. Viewed from the roof, you see the city’s theatre for what it is: those posh patios are mere smoke and mirrors. What you can’t see is the back yard, barely built, with crumbling plaster and propped up with rough wooden supports. There too you can see the roof terraces strewn with weakly installed cabling and rusty satellite dishes, with age battered plant pots and pink plaster facades left to crack and fade in the sun. Marrakech from above is a fascinating mess, a hodgepodge of unplanned construction and time-weathered dilapidation. But unifying it all is the rose-tinged colour of the whole jumble of construction, together with the occasional beautiful mosque tower which punctuates the scenery.

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Rose City Rooftops (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

This enthralling city vision was the inspiration for a small painted study which I completed just a few days ago. Focusing on a very small cut-out of a wider landscape, it is an almost abstracted focus on the criss-cross of tumbling, crumbling pink blushing walls, together with the satellite dishes and cables and old plants peppering the scene. It is characteristically Marrakech. An unplanned mess which exudes beauty as a result.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Green in Common

Sometimes it’s the simple things that are best in life: It’s a well known philosophy, and one which one does well to remember in this world of plenty, of multiple-distraction and rapid pace technology. Living in Mallorca it was a sensation I knew well, as my favourite moments would be sitting on a sunny bench besides the harbour side with a book and my beloved by my side. No music, no gimmicks, just the sound of water and the bobbing up and down of boats. Now I’m back in London, I feel the same when I’m enjoying the great expanses of green which we city dwellers are so fortunate to have on our doorstep. Right where I live I’m a mere stroll away from Clapham Common, Wandsworth Common, Battersea Park to name but a few. And in those spaces one can strip back the protective urban layer and enjoy the simple pleasures.

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Green in Common (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Such was my inspiration for this piece, my first completed work on canvas since I returned to this mammoth city, an urban conglomeration so large that perhaps this small painting speaks in protest. Inspired by the sight of a vast beautiful tree, I planned a work for which this simple landscape of trees and clouds would form the backdrop for a more dramatic tree portrait. But when I walked away from the canvas, with the protagonist still unstarted, I revelled in the simple beauty of this mere line of trees. So I declared this painting finished: my ode to verdant simplicity, and the moments I most cherish, wherever I happen to be.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Painting my travels: Castagneto Carducci

Painting is slowly re-entering my life. It’s been a long few months without it. As many an artist will tell you, it’s difficult to find inspiration when life is unstable, and an international move, a new London job, plus a mammoth redecoration project has done few favours in terms of my artistic production. But how could I not be inspired by my recent venture to Tuscany? The photos I have been sharing over the last couple of weeks go far in demonstrating just what kind of a place it is. As soon as I awoke on the first sunny day, the birdsong, fresh air and sunrays combined to fill my mind afresh with hypothetical paintings. And this one is the first to result from that round of preliminary creative ideas.

My 2016 collection, interpretative abstract, instigated a new abstract language in my art, one which has followed through to subsequent creative projects, and even the way I choose to capture landscapes in my photography. This meant that as I wandered the towns of Tuscany, I saw the sunlit streets not as townscapes, but as a series of abstract compositions. I was aided in this interpretation by the stark contrast between shadow and light, often casting distinct geometric patterns and lines across monotone building walls, and likewise by the nature of Tuscan streets which are inherently narrow resulting in a more dynamic composition of vertical and horizontal planes.

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Castagneto Carducci #1 (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, watercolour and gouache on paper)

The result is this painting, entitled simply Castagneto Carducci #1, after the town which inspired it and which was featured on Wednesday’s Daily Norm. It uses watercolour, which is not a medium I utilise often, but whose transparency leant a very authentic depth to the depiction of the texture of Tuscan walls. But it also uses gouache in creating flatter colour planes, and the combination of media, together with an angular geometric finish to street-inspired constructs, forms a landscape which is at the same time an abstract composition.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

 

Inspired by my surroundings: Paseo Mallorca 4

Those who live on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca count themselves lucky. Winter temperatures rarely drop below 10 degrees, and on days of winter sunshine, when its rays are trapped in a corner away from occasional breezes, you might think that you are living a continuous summer. And in the Paseo Mallorca, the treelined waterway which I currently call my home, the graceful beauty of cypress trees, palms and ancient Arabic city walls continues to inspire, no matter the season. This is never more so than at the close of day, when the drama of winter sunsets add a new element of grace to this verdant avenue.

Having now painted the Paseo Mallorca three times, including views of the bridge of Jaume III and up river towards my apartment I was recently struck with renewed enthusiasm by the angle I originally painted, looking southwards towards the sea and past the Es Baluard museum of art, but this time with the changes brought about by the atmospheric light of dusk. So having previously considered my Paseo Mallorca collection to be complete, I set about embellishing it with this further, darker enhancement, whose sky and light effects add something of a more realistic feel to a collection characterised by flattened colour panes.

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Paseo Mallorca 4 (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

It feels appropriate that I should be presenting this painting now, at the time of dusk, as the sun sets over my time in Mallorca. For all around me, my life in Mallorca is being packed away in boxes as I prepare to leave this paradise, and my beloved Paseo Mallorca, behind. This adventure is now at an end, and London is calling me back into its fold. But long shall the memories of Mallorca prevail in my heart, especially my time spent living on this most inspirational of streets.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Remembrance of things current (No.2): À la table de Mme Verdurin

Marcel Proust continues to ensnare me with the mellifluous poetry of his prose. Having struggled through the first 50 pages of his epic first novel, Swann’s Way, I found that what had at first been like an exercise in chipping away at solid ice had become the easier removal of slushy semi-melted layers, before the watery manifestation of his literary masterpiece washed over me without any effort on my part. I am now what could be termed Prousted, so easily accustomed to bathing languidly in my daily dose of Proust’s world that it has become less an escape from reality as a natural reacquaintance with a perfected present, from whose elegant embrace I depart unwittingly whenever I happen to put down the book.

Happily, when the time comes to place to one side the irresistible pages of In Search of Lost Time, my departure from Proust’s reality is rarely complete, for now the work is inspiring my artwork too. Just before Christmas, I introduced La Madeleine de Proust, the first instalment of my Remembrance of things current series of paintings. I have now completed the second: À la table de Madame Verdurin.

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Remembrance of times current (No.2): À la table de Madame Verdurin (2017 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Anyone who has read Proust will know Madame Verdurin as the monarchical matriarch of her own exclusive, carefully selected carve out of Parisian society. Gathering together those people who she considered to be sufficiently witty to contribute to what she termed her collection of The Faithful, this little congregation importantly included Odette de Crécy who was later to become the infamous Mme Swann, wife of one of the book’s major protagonists, Charles Swann. The gatherings which Proust describes, ruled over by Mme Verdurin and her obedient husband, and playing host to the witticisms of guests, musical recitals, and even its own in-house artist, make for some of the most enjoyable passages of Swann’s Way. Providing an enthralling insight into the self-imposed societal norms practised by those who are not quite high society but form their own exclusive club in lieu of the better connections to which they secretly aspire, the Verdurin salon says so much of the social climbing and inter-class backbiting which was rife in Paris in the belle epoch.

Importantly for the novel, the house of Mme Verdurin provids the backdrop for Swann’s first encounters with Odette, and the frictions which thereafter developed when the couple dared to live a life beyond the congregation of The Faithful. In my painting, I have tried to capture the friction between Swann and Mme Verdurin in the two figures which dominate the bottom half of the piece. There, Mme Verdurin’s hairstyle is almost halo-like in her self-imposed status as a kind of deity in her home, while the red bar above her head is like the sentencing hat worn by a judge who makes severe judgement on the society around her. Above and below, the chandelier and the black and white floor represent the decorative embellishments which ensured that visitors to the Verdurin household were fully aware of their burgeoning social status, but the black and white also represents the keys of the piano which played out Vinteuil’s musical refrain which was to underpin the force of Swann’s passion for Odette. Yet for all this pomp and ostentation, the table of Madame Verdurin, around which the diners sit, is notably empty. Vacuous and without depth, like the true nature of the party’s rather frivolous conversation.

Now I am on the third novel of Proust, and with 4 still to go, I know that my collection of paintings will grow accordingly.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Remembrance of things current (No.1): La Madeleine de Proust

Memory is a powerful thing and there are times in life when it is triggered quite involuntarily. Such moments occur frequently during this season of Christmas for example, when the smell of tinsel upon opening a box of decorations may transport you directly back to a moment of your childhood, or when the sound of a carol may take you back to a chilly but magical evening in a carol concert. Such moments of involuntary remembrance were a principal preoccupation for the extraordinary French novelist, Marcel Proust, and the so called “Madeleine moment”, when the narrator is reminded of a whole raft of his childhood by the innocuous flavour of a madeleine dipped in tea, is one of the central most important moments of Proust’s seminal novel, In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu).

It has long been an ambition of mine to read Proust’s masterpiece of 7 volumes but I must admit that on previous attempts to start his epic, the scale, and the style of the work somewhat intimidated me. But I believe that there are good times and bad times to read such a substantial philosophical work, and from the moment I restarted the tome last month, I was hooked. As inevitably happens when I am engrossed in a book, Proust started to colour my present life and my imagination. The coincidence of reading his first volume with a visit to the Crystal Cubism exhibition in Barcelona made for a powerful motivation, and within days a painting, inspired by the very same Madeleine moment, was blossoming in my head.

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Remembrance of things current: La Madeleine de Proust (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

And here is the result. A work which combines both the Madeleine, the musings which result, and a reflection upon my own current life while reading the novel. Thus you have the knitting with which I have been engaging myself of late, the armchair and lamp in which I have taken to reading the work, and the use of arabesque-like patterns taken from Pakistani fabric. For my current tea of choice is not the tila (lime blossom) featured in the novel, but Pakistani tea – a so called black tea with festive spiced hints. These reflections upon my current environment also inform the title of this new collection “Remembrance on things current” which is a play on the original title of the book, “remembrance of things past”  originally adopted for the seminal english translation before the more literal “In search of lost time” was universally accepted.

Now I am well into volume 2 of Proust’s work, and as his poetical reflections and magnificent belle epoch atmosphere continues to ensnare me, I have no doubt that a second painting like this one will not be long in coming.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Las Meninas: Fourth Interpretative Exercise

It’s been almost 10 months since I last created a work in my collection of painted interpretations of Velazquez´s famous masterpiece, Las Meninas, and in fact, after I had completed the third of the set, I thought that the group was pretty much complete. It was a collection which was significant not just in itself, but because it launched for me an entire new way of seeing both famous masterpieces and reinterpreting them (something which went on to inspire my new redevelopment of works by Rubens, Van Gogh and Courbet amongst others), but also instigated a new collection of more simplified quasi-cubist works developing flattened colour panes and using acrylic as a primary medium. However, at the time of painting the third Las Meninas, I also started a fourth, but as I remember it, a little while after starting, my interpretation of a Titian got me all carried away, and I left the canvas unfinished.

Thus it may have remained were it not for a spring (well autumn…) clean on which I embarked a couple of weeks ago. Discovering the canvas in its unfinished state I was 50:50 whether to bin it, or finish it. Opting to finish what I had started, I am now happy to present the final interpretation of Velazquez´s renowned masterpiece.

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Las Meninas: Fourth Interpretative Exercise (©2016 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Taking the abstracted character shapes from both the second and third interpretations and reusing them in yet another composition, this work is more of a satyrical take on the modern day clinical art gallery in which works such as Velazquez’s can be seen today… seen but certainly not touched. With their security guards, their roped off works, their cameras and alarms and pristine white walls, galleries are not always the most welcome of places, especially when compared with the abundantly filled, cosy interiors depicted in the likes of the original Las Meninas. But at the same time, this vacuous white gallery setting has become the staple of art institutions the world over, a space which allows the masterpieces themselves to shine in relative safety, free to inspire future generations with their majesty, just as Las Meninas did me.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com