Dominic Shepherd’s paintings are beautifully elaborate vistas that reveal a world of ancient, modern and personal mythology. Drawing on the landscape of his home environment – a secluded cottage nestled in woodland in the West Country of England – Shepherd locates his subjects within a natural idyll that suggests a magical otherworldliness.
Cultish cyphers and masquerading figures emerge from and recede into the backgrounds, hinting at bygone rituals and long lost secrets that might, in the right moment, be revealed in the surfaces of water, bark or stonework. Shepherd’s merging of the known and unknown operates on several levels. There is a slippage between reality and imagination where dream, hallucination, symbolism and folklore bleed into each other, offering the audience a fictionalized place that might just be real.
Made as part of the series Old England, Shepherd’s ongoing concerns have reached beyond the personal and historical to the political. In a climate where nationalism has gained so much traction globally, Shepherd addresses the relationship between actual and nostalgic notions of received traditions, opening onto a consideration of the complex relationship between Romanticism, folk, patriotism and nationalism.
Dominic Shepherd was born in England in 1966. He graduated with a Masters in Fine Art Painting from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London in 1995. He is an Associate Professor at the Arts University Bournemouth and is co-coordinator of the Black Mirror Network, which explores the influence and role of Enchantment, the occult and magic in modern and contemporary art. Shepherd was a prize winner in the renowned John Moores exhibition in 2004 and has exhibited globally in galleries and museums including Berlin, Bristol, Frankfurt, Klaipėda, Liverpool, London, Los Angeles, Helsinki, Miami, Munich and New York. His work is also represented in numerous private collections in France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.
Emma Bennett’s paintings at once recall Dutch and Flemish still-life painting, 20th century Modernism, film and photography. Exquisitely composed, Bennett’s recurring motifs of fruit, flowers, drapery, fire, dead game and interior objects set against black monochromatic grounds operate on multiple levels as memento mori. Exploring the fleeting nature of existence, experience and encounters, Bennett’s work refers to the incomplete, fragmented nature of memory and thought:
‘My paintings, like memories, contain small fragments of imagery - these are focused details surrounded by darkness and ambiguity. The imagery of the paintings locates memories in specific places and, as with memories, there are sharply focused details as well as inaccuracies and things that one can't quite recall.’
Bennett continues to subtly introduce new imagery into her work. Most recently, interior details including stairs, mirrors, lamps and personal artefacts reference regularly frequented places that were once intimate or familiar, but now resonate only in memory. Lamps illuminate areas partially, reflections in the mirror are abstracted, and curtains or drapery conceal the unknown. Unanchored objects are employed in combination with the voidal to suggest absence, longing and uncertainty.
Emma Bennett was born in Wales in 1974. She graduated with a Masters in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London in 1998. Bennett was recently included in ‘100 Painters of Tomorrow’ and ‘Nature Morte’, both published by Thames & Hudson, and the iArtBook ‘100 London Artists’. She has exhibited globally in galleries and museums including Aberystwyth, Amsterdam, Berlin, Bremen, Cardiff, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Klaipėda, London and Los Angeles. Bennett’s work is also represented in prominent private collections in Australia, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, United Kingdom & United States