Far Away is Close at Hand in Images of Elsewhere, a new exhibition by artist Stanley Donwood, opens at The Outsiders gallery in Soho, London next Friday.
Donwood is perhaps best known for his work with Radiohead and Thom Yorke – he has created the artwork for Radiohead’s albums stretching back to OK Computer, as well as for all of Yorke’s solo projects. This show will feature paintings created for The King of Limbs, Radiohead’s 2011 album, as well as ink and pencil pieces Donwood made for Holloway, a book published by Faber and Faber earlier this year. Alongside these will be new works, such as Nether, shown above.
The Holloways series includes woodcut prints and large works on paper. Holloway lanes are characterised by an over-arching avenue of fauna that creates a natural tunnel effect. “In the lead up to making these pieces I became fascinated with the idea of a cathedral of sound,” says Donwood. “I was working with Radiohead on the record that was to become The King of Limbs, and my early hearings of the music seemed to suggest an over-arching canopy of detail.
“I had a kind of memory that the fluted columns and ceiling tracery of medieval churches owed its inspiration to the northern forests of Europe; the tall tree trunks, the interlaced branches above, the majesty of the woods. I wanted to take this caged spirit of the trees back into the forests, where sounds were free and untethered by religion, where the spreading branches supported the sky, not the roof of a church. I began to paint trees, bright, coloured trees, through which dark mists could percolate.”
While working on the Holloway book, Donwood slept overnight under some of the canopies in south Dorset, most of which have since been cut down. He then drew the canopies from memory back at his studio.
The two paintings above were featured as part of The Kings of Limbs artwork. For the show, Donwood has decided to frame all the works in ash wood. “The ash is Yggdrasil, central to pre-Christian Norse mythology, which I alluded to in the artwork for The King of Limbs,” he says. “The ash tree is currently under dire threat from a disease called, imaginatively enough, ash die-back.”
Of the show’s title, he says: “It’s a very beautiful sentence to my mind, suggesting both positive and negative sentiments; in fact, it’s a very sentimental expression. And this exhibition is also, maybe, my most sentimental yet. Give me a few more years and I’ll be painting fluffy puppies or something.”
The exhibition at The Outsiders will run from September 20 until October 19, more info on the gallery is at theoutsiders.net. Stanley Donwood also posts new projects and general musings to his blog, slowlydownward.com.