In the introduction to Nick Verrall's influential 2008 book 'Colour And Light In Oils', the artist summarises his philosophical and technical approach to impressionistic painting. Towards the end, one sentence leaps out. "I feel a large painting can flood the surrounding space with colour and envelop whoever is looking at it," he says, "It is interesting to me to see how the play of light and shadows can fragment an image and make something that is very easy to understand seem quite abstract."
In two short sentences, Nick captures the magic of the impressionist ethos. In the 1870s, Manet, Monet, Pissarro and others shocked the establishment with their fresh take on the fundamentals of painting. They were obsessed with light. They depicted everyday subjects. They broke the 'rules' of composition and colour. They prioritised subjective experience over objective ‘truth'.
And yet, after much initial resistance, their new aesthetic became hugely popular. 150 years on impressionism remains (arguably) the most beloved of all schools of painting. Simply, the work touches people. The fact is, impressionist paintings are aesthetically lovely and – in their loose, semi-abstracted way – essentially truthful.
Painters understand this too. None more so than Nick Verrall, who is acclaimed as one of foremost impressionist painters and thinkers of the 21st century. His new Catto show – his 13th with us – shows why the artist is so beloved. It is filled with delicate meditations on the interplay of light with the natural environment. There are beautiful works such Forest Interior, Woodland Dawn and Mists Over The Lake, in which soft sunlight breaks through morning haze. And there are more foreboding mysteries such as Evening, San Giiorgio Maggiore with dark clouds looming over a distant townscape.
Elsewhere Nick brings us gorgeous paintings of some of Europe's most beautiful destinations: Provence, Tuscany, Venice, Normandy. However, this time the work also showcases a little more of the UK than in previous collections: Norfolk, Leigh on Sea, Polperro and, yes, Hampstead. All of these paintings amply demonstrate what Nick meant when talked of "flooding the surrounding space” and “enveloping the viewer”.
They are the fruits of a lifetime’s study. It’s now more than 50 years since Nick dedicated himself to painting full time with one man show at the Upper Grosvenor Gallery in 1971. What a career it has been. Nick has won numerous awards including The City of London Annual Exhibition Prize, the Abbot and Holder Prize and in 2015 the de Laszlo Medal. He was elected a member of The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) in 2010 and a member of The Royal Society of Oil Painters (ROI) in 2011. Prints of his work have been reproduced by Ikea, WH Smith and the Art Group.
Come to the Catto to see why impressionism still wins the popular vote – and why Nick Verrall’s contemporary spin is keeping the philosophy fresh 150 years after its controversial birth.
If you would like to enquire about this artist or about buying their work you can call us: +44 (0) 20 7435 6660
use the form or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org