A local gallery is inviting islanders to escape the rain and cold weather with a series of colourful paintings inspired by cocoa forests, that celebrates “everything that is great about the natural world in its purest form.”
Ilsa Capper’s exhibition at Private & Public, her first since she returned to the island, continues until Friday.
Born in Jersey, Ilsa studied Fine Art at Central St. Martin’s and Chelsea School of Art in London, where she has been living and working in London for many years.
‘Heart of the Forest’ features a series of colourful new paintings inspired by cocoa forests, which Isla describes as a “love drug."
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Pictured: Dylan Suttie created chocolates inspired by the exhibition.
“Chocolate is the only substance on the planet we know of which releases the same hormones and sensations as being in love,” she explained. “I think that is amazing and why we consume it the way we do, and those cocoa forests are our love drug”.
In the months leading up to the exhibition, Ilsa’s daily studio routine started with drawings and sketches of cocoa forests which then developed into larger paintings.
Elements of these drawings were then used to stain the canvas with oil paint to create a “skeleton,” which was then intensified through the application of different paint techniques and colour. This produces a rich and colourful variation across each canvas in a style and finish that incites remarkable visual sensations.
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“Real forests operate within our memory as mysterious places. In legends and fairy tales they are inhabited by shadowy creatures, symbols of all of the dangers with which young people must contend if they are to become adults,” wrote Gallery Director Chris Clifford.
“It is a place of testing, a realm of darkness holding the secrets of nature which we must penetrate to find meaning and in analytical psychology the forest represents feminity in the eyes of a young man, an unexplored realm full of the unknown.”
In Ilsa’s work, the forest is the opposite of dark, it is full of colours, greens, yellows, blues, pinks and their many variations. Although mysterious in the indistinct shapes it takes, it feels luminous, inviting warm and comforting.
Pictured: 'Angel Man no.2' was created using chalk, pastel, charcoal, varnish and glitter.
“The forest is really a metaphor for a journey into the unknown, conjuring the imagery used in fairy tales and myth movies, computer games and gothic music,” Ilsa explained.
“It’s wonderful and terrifying and totally immersive. When I paint, I am in a process of building up and breaking down the images in order to rethink and push the painting further.
"Every painting is a long process of decisions which take it one way or another and, in a way, it’s like being in a dense forest, submerged, but not really ever completely sure where things are leading.”
Pictured: Ilsa's paintings portray a forest that is "luminous, inviting warm and comforting."
Ilsa’s intense appreciation of the power of nature delivered the “remarkable” works contained within the exhibition, said Mr Clifford.
“Unlike The Cure’s dark and claustrophobic pop anthem, Ilsa Capper has made paintings that are bright, colourful and celebratory and which ultimately are about desire, expectation, love and indulgence,” he added.
“The use, by the artist, of cocoa forests as the inspiration for these paintings is a deliberate and strategic signifier within the exhibition."
Pictured: Gallery Director Chris Clifford described Ilsa's paintings as enigmatic.
“I am captivated by forests and find them truly magnificent. I love walking through any forest or woodland. It feels wonderful,” Ilsa added. “The woods outside Dinan have fungus which only grows on trees where the air is completely pure. The smell in those woods is incredible.”
Described Ilsa’s paintings as enigmatic, Mr Clifford said they hover between “representation and abstraction” and resemble places that feel “both familiar and totally alien in equal measure."
“In this, our penultimate exhibition in Jersey in 2019, visitors to the gallery will be immersed in paintings that radiate bright colour, positive energy, sunlight and everything that is great about the natural world in its purest form,” he added.
“In many ways a visit to our gallery spaces will be the perfect antidote to the endless rain and shorter days that have characterised our weather of late."
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