Countdown to Launch & Exhibition: ‘Objects of Desire’

10 artists, 10 weeks-Week 8. Jess woodrow

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Jess’s intense paintings are containers of potentially vast spaces painted on a very small scale.

Sometimes taking months to resolve these thickly painted deckled edged textured objects are imbued with the intimacy and romance of a long deeply felt relationship with the Welsh landscape.

In her studio, Jess draws my attention to a tiny new painting that looks like the sea bed. Painted in very dark turquoise I say that I could imagine swimming underwater towards a small gathering of texture in the centre. Jess immediately says ‘but you would have to swim forever’.

As soon as she says this, impossibly, the painting starts to grow. Stand back and distances increase. I’m convinced that this strangely claustrophobic space is infinite.

Back on land again colours are beautifully soft. Greys and greens merge with small amounts of rich reds and oranges to form what could either be small hillocks in the foreground or distant mountains. A strip of yellow could be the beach meeting an outcrop of rock or a field of rape with two deep furrows taking the eye into the distance. There is the beach again dark pink this time against almost black rocks. The sky is a murky green and painted with a couple of sweeping brush strokes that seem to press down on the rocks. In another new piece an intense wall of fire is burning in black and red meeting a strip of pale grey in the foreground.

With every encounter Jess’s small paintings work their way just a little bit further into your psyche, planting a seed of desire and longing for something that is always just out of reach.

Ruth Piper August 13th 2012