Instead of dwelling on grand Romantic narratives surrounding the sublimity of nature, Jo Davenport’s new series of oils considers the fragility and intimacy of the landscape and its relationship to our emotions and memories. Moving away from topographical and physical representations, they are abstract expressions of the feelings associated with being in the landscape: the sensuality of a flowing river, the scent of impending rain, the warmth of the midday sun and cool shimmers of morning light. Davenport is interested in the charged space connecting the real world of the spectator with the imagined and emotional landscapes of the paintings. Bridging the tangible and the experienced – the physicality of the canvas and the metaphysical realm of memory – the paintings nurture a dialogue between internal and external landscapes, eschewing pre-existing ideas of what a ‘landscape’ is.
Davenport’s complex layering of paint parallels an accumulation of ideas, thoughts and emotions. She considers the emotional impact of colour, and how compositional formats and motifs can trigger perceptual responses and cognitive associations. Rather than working with a fixed image in mind, the artist uses paint to search for her imagery, which gradually emerges like a quiet revelation. Her process is a highly physical exchange with oils built atop a ground of paint that has been poured and tipped and, as a result, each painting takes on a life of its own unbound by consciousness.