Shani Rhys James - 'What Comes of Picking Flowers'
15 September 2018 - 7 October 2018
Shani Rhys James, arguably the most exciting and successful Welsh painter of her generation, is exhibiting her latest work in a solo show at the Tegfryn Gallery. Shani is best known for her large scale figurative work but for this exhibition she has been commissioned to produce a show of smaller paintings.
This latest exhibition consists of approximately twenty five new paintings, all executed in Shani’s bold style, utilising sumptuous colours and rich textures. Continuing with an autobiographical approach, Shani’s portrait is often included in domestic settings against an exuberant floral background.
Shani has been feted with prizes and honours, including the Jerwood Prize (the UK's most valuable and prestigious prize for painting) and the Gold Medal at the National Eisteddfod. She received her MBE in 2006.
Shani says of this body of work: At this time of the year there is abundant growth; weeds, ground elder, the spikey acanthus plants and giant flags and poppies. That is when I paint enormous bunches of flowers, filling the whole canvas; I want to show the anarchic wild and uncontrollable growth as they decay and wilt. It’s my way of describing the plants around our house, symbolising the world, which is in flux. Politics is in turmoil and global warming is changing what survives in the garden. Trees are threatened and the strongest plants survive: often it’s the weeds.
As an artist I plod over to the studio to view my self as the artist in my habitat. I have been doing this for years, and each painted head brings something new to light. And I also have portrayed myself as Persephone who is the personification of vegetation which shoots forth in the spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest - the cycle of life and death. I wait all year for these flowers to appear and then I paint them. They are a contrast to the head and still life studies because they are a free explosion onto the canvas, a liberation from the close scrutiny of the head. Narcissus was the god who stared at his own reflection, (as an artist I do this) but is also the name of the daffodil, which is an emblem of Wales.
In the old Portugese fairy tale ‘What Came of Picking Flowers’ the young sisters who go to pick flowers vanish one after the other, rather like the figures which have disappeared from some of my flower paintings