2nd September 2021 by Octi in Blog

Livingstone St. Ives are pleased to host Henrietta Dubrey’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.

Presenting a collection of both figurative and abstract paintings, the exhibition explores themes of intuition and self perception.

Against the backdrop of the watery habitat of her native Cornwall through Lanyon-esque imagery, Henrietta explores her fascination with the female body, both as object of beauty and as political landscape, and the self referential act of painting.

The exhibition’s base palette is a heady summer mix of rosé pink and Hockney-pool blue, evoking Tuscan summers. Paintings range from Picassian languishing nudes, such as ‘Heavenly Beauty’, to small and perfectly-formed paintings such as ‘Tuscan Dive’ with its perfection of naked white cheeks and Hockney-esque splash. Abstracted and delicate Munchian landscapes like ‘Tuscan Blush’ are interspersed, which seem to slide into a dreamlike abstraction.

The paintings are accompanied by a collection of small works on paper.

All work is available to purchase through the gallery. Please contact us on (+44) 01736 697315 or email us at [email protected].

Henrietta says:

‘Yesterday doesn’t know what today knows’ (Teju Cole, Golden Apple of the Sun)

Feelings and multitudinous thoughts pass through the mind. A continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue. Almost like a dream state, ideas come and go, sometimes vague, sometimes crystal clear.

The strangest year of one’s life has just occured. Reality has changed in so many ways. The way one thinks and functions has changed. One has become more reflective and calm. One has had time to slow down, gather information and really absorb situations that one would normally have missed or rushed headlong into without thinking clearly. Still, thoughts race, as if trying to work things through. Inspiration feeds itself into the soul by means of books, magazines, podcasts, everyone just trying to make sense of it all.

‘Even when I’m just looking, I am working’ (Lee Krasner)

An interior monologue and associations manifest themselves in a series of seemingly random paintings. A rhythm forms, of drawing and painting, which one feels compelled to keep up. The freedom to create whatever one wants, letting the subconscious dictate. The creative act is a contextualisation of all these things.


‘Put down your cell phones, put everything away, and feel your blood pulsing in you, feel your creative impulse, feel your own spirit, your heart, your mind. Feel the joy of being alive and free.’ (Patti Smith)

These forty paintings that make up my exhibition consist of large and small oil on canvas paintings, as usual with my passion for painting abstract works alongside figurative ones. Zen refers to a general feeling and mood expressed through these works, my perceived reality. Intuitive gestures and reactions to various stimuli providing energy and impulse to the compositions.

Large abstracts, ‘Entrance’, ’Roses and Clover’, ‘No Man is an Island’ and ‘Zen’, a couple of which reference song lyrics and poetry, take license to create a gestural response in paint. The language that emerges reveals a new aspect or way of thinking. The paintings are a pure and instinctive product of looking and digesting. ‘Balm’ with its soothing pinks and overall thickness of texture comforts in its bold swathes of colour, sweeping over an imagined landscape.

The characters in the figurative works peer out at the viewer, as if to reveal their stories. They are mostly imagined people, some I see as distant self portraits, others drawn from archetypes of family, film characters, fashion models in magazines, from social media posts. Imagery is all around us, the plethora of information is often overwhelming. I have chosen to pause and really look, concentrate on a certain aspect or mood to portray.

‘This woman lying here like a white stone Like water in the moon in a dead crater Not a sound in the night not moss nor sand Only the slow budding of my words

At the ear of the water at the ear of the flesh Unhurried running
And clear memorial
Here is the moment burning and returned Drowning itself in itself and never consumed.’

Octavio Paz from ‘In Her Splendor Islanded’

The above, spoke to me in retrospect, about ‘Reflection’. The dreamlike, semi abstract figure reclines in a landscape, perhaps on a beach, day or night, accompanied by her own thoughts, her reflection, her companion or her alter ego? This dreamlike state is carried through to ‘Tuscan Blush’ a magical landscape of golden sunsets, Italian trees, rolling hillsides and rushing rivers. A summer wanderlust as we all waited at home in various states of unease and lockdown.

A series of works on paper to accompany the paintings includes the ‘Blue Series’. Simple line drawings, capturing moments of daily life. The seductive blue line describes the human form in a slightly ambiguous way, its purity harking back to such influences as Picasso and his blue period, Matisse’s cut-outs, Yves Klein’s famous blue works and William Scott.

Couples frolic, mothers and children, women languish. They all exist in my mind, in my studio. They accompany me on my journey and together we tell a story.

– Henrietta Dubrey, September 2021

View the exhibition page.

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