Martyn Brewster Sails into Abstraction with New Paintings of the Sea

Mar 20, 2016 9:01PM

Throughout his career, Martyn Brewster has steadily honed his craft, preferring a methodical evolution over the quick pivots that have come to define the art world. “In the past thirty or forty years,” he recently said, “the whole notion of fine art has changed dramatically. Being a painter like me…is completely different from being an artist in the contemporary art world, which is all about marketing and personality.”

Appropriately, Brewster has spent the last two decades comfortably installed in the relatively quiet seaside environs of Dorset, on the southern coast of England. “Dorset has been very important to me,” he has said, citing his move from hectic London as a decision born out of the desire to “paint and make prints but also go for walks and absorb…all the subtleties you get in nature.” From his studio—once an undertaker’s office—he enjoys a quiet kind of fame, drawing inspiration from the nearby jagged rocks while his work is exhibited across the globe.

His most recent show, a solo exhibition at Waterhouse and Dodd in London, indicates a turn away from more figurative landscapes and a movement toward gentle geometric abstractions in reds, blues, and grays.

While he originally found success with charcoal renderings of Dorset’s cliffs and gloomy oceanscapes, these new paintings represent a slight departure from the English landscape tradition. Nevertheless, it’s possible to detect in their composition the suggestion of a boat or rolling hill. Even the painting names—Seascape Series 36, Coastline 3, Summer Light—hint at life on the English coast. After 20 years, Dorset remains Brewster’s favorite subject, one he’s still finding new ways to explore.

—M. Osberg

Martyn Brewster” is on view at Waterhouse and Dodd, London, Mar. 1–24, 2016.

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