Seth Garland

The Secret Repose by Seth Garland
Silk and Stars by Seth Garland
Blue Rain by Seth Garland
The Silver Veil by Seth Garland
A classically-orientated and influenced contemporary nude artist, Seth Garland was born in Truro in Cornwall in 1977 and it’s fair to suggest that he’s inherited the nucleus of his creativity and ability to express himself from his parents. Both Garland’s mother and father are acknowledged professional illustrators, with his paternal figure being arguably best known for being responsible for the illustration of the globally-identifiable Tolkien book jackets. Naturally enough, being raised in this type of environment bode well for a young Garland who was perpetually exposed to the visual arts from an illustrative perspective during the full gamut of his formative years spent in the West Country. Of course inherency is only one part of it, and a combination of this and Garland’s driven enthusiasm and productivity ensured him the securing of a place on an art foundation course at Plymouth College of Art and Design, where he applied himself to study between 1995 and 1996. On completion of this course, Garland landed himself a place at the famed Central St Martins School of Art in London. During his time there – 1996 to 1999 - Garland claimed second prize in the ‘Art of Imagination Open Competition’ showcased at the Mall Galleries, also located in the UK’s foremost city, and at that particular time was noted as being the competition’s youngest ever prize winner at the age of 20.

Being what can only be described as a massive fan of all things Italian High Renaissance, it’s clear to see where and from whom Garland draws his influences, making no bones about listing both Holbein and the past master himself, Leonardo da Vinci as being visually and philosophically instrumental in his approach and understanding of the genre in which he’s gravitated toward and made such huge strides within. But Garland didn’t stop there. Instead the artists chose to marry this historically magnanimous router of style with the less structured, more free-flowing compositional approach of the modern day fashion photographers. This brave and bold artistic direction has delivered and keeps on giving for Garland, as what we witness is a sumptuous hybrid which forges contemporary beauty with steadfastly Renaissance twists and turns. Garland has pulled off something of a creative coup by fusing together almost religiously guarded and border sacrosanct old with go-getting, open to interpretation new; which is simply a joy to behold.

Whilst focussing on Garland’s typical nude works, the pictorial evidence that you’re confronted with supports his claims that he strives to overlook the restraints of the real world and rather set his paintings in somewhere and sometime else for all intents and purpose. The artist insists on manifesting etherealenvirons, which is nearly always subjected to a landscape in the background, whilst the semi naked form of womanhood enlightens the fore. There’s almost a 1980s TRON-like video game ambience and 1970s prog rock album cover sleeve artwork ambience found to an extent in Garland’s seminal studies, which would also to our minds lend themselves to 1990 rave/warehouse party flyer reproductions, yet that’s just personal opinion and musings. Returning to his female muse, Garland intentionally makes the situating of the sitter contextually ambiguous and wholeheartedly believes that representation and abstraction make for the perfect creative bedfellows. To hammer home this point in question, Garland confers that he considers Rembrandt to have projected a blatantly abstract ambivalence through his core works, and insists that a cornucopia of painted texturing, translucency, opaqueness and syrupiness makes for a wondrous compositional occasion.

Masked geometry coupled alongside the technology of the painted process are the two methodical strategies that Garland constructs and applies to his regimented formula for what he sees as the perfect creative fit, and goes on to speak of a ‘painterly DNA’ and the ‘emotive qualities of the paint’ in direct reference to how the materials and mediums used can be manipulated to convey a raft of intriguing eventualities in an individual composition. Clearly exceedingly learned and engaging in this subject, Garland also acknowledges how recent scientific discoveries into the composites of the paint engendered by the ‘Old Masters’ has led to new and evolving theories about paint and its past and, or more concern to this generation of exponents, the future. Garland’s excitement for and demonstrable requirement to learn how paint was applied during different artistic movements down the years is a positive force and an appreciation and further understanding of this can only seek to enhance his future output and direction within his chosen genre and perhaps beyond, and has provided Garland with renewed vigour and anticipation in his personal reconnection with oils. In the artist’s own words; “For so long I had been working with what I liken to a piano with only one key, and note by note I am adding more emotional texture. My studies are documents of this exploration”.

Summarising Garland’s awards and exhibition timeline, we learn that the artist exhibited concurrently at the Lakeside Gallery Barbican in Plymouth as resident artist between 1999 and 2004, whilst between 2003 and 2008 the Lakeside Gallery in Cornwall provided the showcase for Garland’s work as part of a three-man show during this period. In 2006 his work formed part of a group exhibition at the Albermarle Gallery’s Summer Show in London, while a year later he put on a solo exhibition at the same London venue, entitled; ‘Seth Garland, Cubed’.

View All Art Works By Seth Garland