Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh
North of Princes Street, in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, hangs the work Keith Epps an Edinburgh based painter in his first Solo Exhibition. While this collection of work is a far step from his early figurative drawings, he still manages to include them, lurking within the undergrowth providing a dark and unsettling surprise to the onlooker. Epps was lead to Landscapes through his fascination with clouds.
One word would describe this painting perfectly. Lush. This is also a beautiful representation of Epp’s creative process. This is not one reference image – rather a collection of images amalgamated together to produce one cohesive and jaw-dropping piece. 3 references were used in total, the first; the luscious green valley stretching out is the Devil’s Kneading Trough in Kent, the Isle of Arran can be seen in the distance at the very edge of the Horizon line and the dark section is a section of the Moorfoot Hills. Together they create an all-encompassing image that sings of birdsong, fresh air and of summer. Within the gorgeous valley lies a hidden interloper, whose presence is alluded in the title. I feel the original inclusion of a figure (in this case Miss Muffet of nursery rhyme fame) would have taken away from the nature of the piece, but having the spider hidden within the corner gives the onlooker a far more natural and menacing narrative.
In “Low Sun- Lomond Hills” we see a greying cloud gathering above the peaks of East and West Lomond, an everyday sight for the locals of Fife and the east coast. The cloud is what slowly grabs your eye, giving a sense of foreboding before working its way down towards the unusual peaks of the Lomond Hills. You initially think the painting is void of human presence until you notice the 3 dark figures in the right corner, hiding within beauty, a recurring element within Epps’ work. There’s a softness and a movement like quality to this piece, upon research the reference was taken from a train from Perth to Edinburgh and explains that flatness and lack of texture that makes it feel like a memory. I get a feeling of nostalgia with this piece as these are the hill I would play on as a child having grown up in the village at the foot of these hills, and with the absence of the street lights, the greying clouds were often an indicator to head home for cover.
Talk with the Artist
Nipping into the Open Eye Gallery, I stumbled across this exhibition. Realizing that the artist was there in the gallery, we shared a joyous conversation on cloud-spotting and beautiful countryside.
The artist, Keith, talked of ruined tanks and clouds for contrasts. He was thinking about the bad and the good, a sort of Yin and Yang. The newsreels of Yugoslavia in the 90s resonated the light and darkness of the situation, just like the classical idea of “Et in arcadia ego”.
Keith spoke of his time after graduating from Edinburgh College of Art as he drifted into working as furniture restorer till 2005. He resumed painting part-time in 2007. This exhibition is a culmination of his work from that period till now. His meticulous draughtsmanship is not to be missed.