19 June - 5 September 2021
Kestle Barton is proud to present an exhibition dedicated to Jeffery Camp’s paintings of Beachy Head and his late flower paintings.
The edges of the landscape have been fundamental to Jeffery Camp’s painting since the 1940s when he returned to his native Suffolk to paint the beaches at Pakefield. In the 1960s Camp found the epic chalk cliffs at Beachy Head, Sussex and these became the defining motif of his life’s work, dominating paintings for the next fifty years.
These vistas are finely observed, specific places, and yet they often contain a sense of otherworldliness. Camp’s vertiginous, ancient clifftops rich with wildflowers and birds are so impossibly fresh that they must be glimpsed in a vision. Amorous couples loll among the grasses and are caressed by the light of the sun, lost in the reveries of eternal youth. These cliff edges are dreamt places, as well as spaces from where daydreams are conjured.
All of life is here. Lithe and languorous youths embrace and play as the restless sea slowly claims the crumbling cliff. The sensation that a sudden gust of wind might threaten to lift a body over the edge is tempered by the feeling that these bodies would only be carried weightlessly, entwined, up into the pale blue sky. These are paintings of long epochs and of fleeting moments.
In Camp’s final burst of painting (c.2010-12), cut flowers began to appear with reclining bodies in place of the cliff edges. Fresh blooms, bound to shrivel and fade, offer a different sense of time passing. Some People Dream A Lot is the first solo exhibition since Camp’s passing in 2020, following a very long painting life. Posthumously, these works seem to meditate more decisively on the impermanence of our vitality, but they do so with joy and an undiminished desire to look and to exalt the simple and profound beauty of light animating a body.
Some People Dream A Lot is curated by Dan Howard-Birt in collaboration with Michael Richardson | Art Space Gallery.
Image: Jeffery Camp South Downlands, 1990. Oil on canvas, 170 x 292cm. Courtesy of Art Space Gallery
Jeffery Camp (1923-2020) held his first solo-exhibitions at the Beaux Arts Gallery, London in 1959, 1961 and 1963. Subsequent solo shows were held at New Art Centre, London (1968), a retrospective at the South London Art Gallery (1973), Serpentine Gallery (1978), Nigel Greenwood Gallery, London (1986 and 1990) and with Browse & Darby (1993, 1997, 2001). Since then, Jeffery Camp has been represented by Michael Richardson of Art Space Gallery London, and his book ALMANAC – designed and edited by Art Space Gallery – was published in association with the RA in 2010. Jeffery Camp was elected a Royal Academician in 1984.
Dan Howard-Birt makes paintings and exhibitions. He is director of Kingsgate Workshops & Project Space, London and teaches at Central St Martins, Turps Art School and Camberwell. His curated exhibitions include I Cheer a Dead Man’s Sweetheart: 21 Painters in Britain (De La Warr Pavilion, 2014); Jacqui Hallum, Leon Kossoff (2018), Casper White, Jochen Klein (2019), Lorna Robertson, Robert MacBryde (2019) (all Kingsgate Project Space). Dan Howard-Birt lives in Cornwall and London.
Founded in 1986, the Gallery specializes in mainly British painters with a commitment to figuration and with established or emerging reputations, and is now accepted as one of London’s foremost galleries exhibiting serious contemporary fine art.