March 17 - April 29, 2022
Marlborough London is proud to present an exhibition of works by Christopher Bramham (b. 1952), which spans almost twenty years of the artist’s career and celebrates the ever changing and beguiling nature of the British landscape. Referred to by Lucian Freud as his ‘only true heir’, Bramham is amongst the most important figurative artists working today.
Christopher, who lives and works in Cornwall, became a close friend of Lucian Freud who greatly admired his painting, as do Frank Auerbach and John Wonnacott. Bramham’s work reflects the close personal and artistic relationship with Freud, whom he met in 1983 and continued painting and exhibiting with throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Freud instilled in Bramham a great appreciation for detail, which is characteristic for his small-scale canvases as well as his powerful large paintings. Two of Christopher and Ruth’s then young children, Barney and Polly, sat for Lucian’s painting Bramham Children and Ducks, 1995 and the small painting Two Ducks Resting, 1997 included in the show depicts the same birds.
The Artist writes: ‘The earliest pictures were round Richmond Park. These were the first sustained paintings I ever did and that was hugely down to the help I got from Lucian (Freud) at this point. When I first met him in ’83 I showed him my stuff and wailed that I could only draw. He said he was in the same position when young. It was a tough time. I nearly gave up after a year or two and just resigned to printmaking and drawing. But Lucian really did encourage me to keep going.
One gets bolder, little tree close-ups (I had Altdorfer’s painting: St. George in the Forest c. 1510 in mind) spread into whole gardens. Summer ones would take three summers and winter ones three years likewise.’
After the family moved to Cornwall, Christopher observed: ‘It takes a while to find one’s feet in a new place so I’m afraid repeating the same subject is my way of steadying my nerve. I was thinking a lot of the Welsh landscape painter Thomas Jones (1742–1803) at the time’.
The ‘golden era’ of British landscape painting in the nineteenth century is a key influence for Bramham, particularly the work of John Constable (1776 - 1837), whose paintings were devoted to scenes of his ‘careless boyhood’, deeply invested with the intensity of his affection for the countryside. The parallels between Constable and Bramham stem from their shared practice of what Constable described as ‘a close and continual observance of nature’.
Although he also paints still lives and interiors, Bramham’s landscape paintings are where his brushwork are evidently and unapologetically British, alert to the most subtle changes of light, weather and atmosphere. The oils, pastels and charcoal drawings included in this exhibition explore some of key themes and artistic concerns of Bramham’s oeuvre: the changing seasons, rural and urban landscapes, and the engagement with familiar details of nature. The paintings’ intricate impasto surfaces bear direct witness to the gradual build-up of paint, translating the passage of time between hours of the day or seasons of the year into a material memory.