LondonOrlanda Broom: Rewild
Grove Square Galleries presents Rewild, a solo exhibition by British artist Orlanda Broom. Featuring a new series of paintings created over the course of the last lockdown year, these buoyant works provide a colourful escape from our current state of being. Through her signature lush and saturated style, the artist depicts worlds both fantastical and surreal, absent of human or animal but abundant with sprawling nature.
Broom’s worlds may be seen as timeless and placeless, often treading a fine line between intrigue and dystopia, light and dark. In these new works, however, the undertones are lighter as she contemplates an optimistic, post-pandemic future. A celebration of new beginnings, growth and restoration, Rewild sees nature dominate once again and pays homage to mystical, mythologised realms.
Testament to the artist’s interest in the relationship between psychology and landscape, human beings and the natural world, in Susquehanna Dreamer (2020), Broom alludes to Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his hopes to establish a utopian commune on the banks of the river Susquehanna. In this painting, a circular window framed with exotic flowers and verdant foliage opens up to a brave new world, drawing the gaze to a view of paradise.
Working on a variety of surfaces – including wood panel and, for the first time on large scale works, aluminium – Broom’s style combines abstract, iridescent forms with more figurative elements. Inspired by botanical guides and photographs of her past travels, the plants in Broom’s paintings are eerily familiar and yet are composed from the artist’s imagination. Rendered with a fluorescent, almost artificial palette, they assume anthropomorphic qualities and behaviours. Works such as Creep (2020) play on plant-like characteristics and at the same time present a mirror of human behaviour, the prickly tendrils both alluring and sinister. In Pink Seekers (2020), triffid-like cacti appear self-assured as they lean towards the horizon, a Hollywood sunset that calls them to greener pastures.
“This body of work spans a difficult period during the pandemic, and I’ve turned towards the positive and more jubilant aspects of my painting. The connection to nature and aspects of escapism have always been a theme but it’s particularly pertinent now as people’s appreciation of being outdoors has grown; there’s a more vested interest in environmental issues. Currently when we think about the environment its generally about loss, damage or negative change… I’d like my enthusiasm and love of nature to come through and engage people to also think about what the future holds… can our planet rewild?’
Courtesy of the artist and Grove Square Galleries, London. Photo: Paul Aitchison