Embarking upon a trip through the Wiltshire countryside, one can't help but notice the very essence of Akers Douglas' art in the rolling hills around his home; and it is only in seeing his newest body of work in person that one sees the real effect his surroundings have on him. The immense power of nature and the endless possibilities of the landscape are harnessed in magnificent style by this boldly resourceful plein air landscape painter. With his mobile Land Rover studio accompanying him through the winding roads and the vast open expanses, he uses various improvised methods to produce large scale paintings outside in the elements, even in dramatic weather conditions. In this new body of work he has managed to capture the ever-changing weather that clothes his landscape, and in doing so gives us a sense of the fleetingness of each scene, and the momentary wonder he sees in each of his chosen locations. But it is not only an insightful portrayal of the relationship between artist and landscape, his paintings also show an intrinsic optimism, demonstrating scenes of almost idyllic pastoral beauty. His work is bolder and more distinctive than ever, with the pure, clean, crisp whites in his skies mixing with a richer palette than previously used, with more vibrant colour grounds breaking through to give his paintings an even greater depth than ever before. Since his last exhibition with Portland Gallery, Akers Douglas has embarked upon a tour of the Balkans with HRH Prince Charles, painted in Morocco, and has added rocky coastal landscapes to his expanding repertoire with aplomb. He has also visited the ever-enthralling Scottish isle of Iona, which, with its low lying terrain and its vibrant white sands, lends itself extraordinarily well to his style and technique. The deeper blues and greens Akers Douglas paints in the seas of Iona are delicate but powerful, and when contrasted with the Wiltshire landscapes (for which the artist is best known), these works prove to be another particularly accomplished string to an already bourgeoning bow. The results, of course, speak for themselves. Since the Scottish Colourists visited Iona back in the early 20th Century, very few artists have captured the island's atmosphere so convincingly on a first visit. This is a debut expedition that surely has to be repeated.
Akers Douglas' work has an uplifting positivity about it, a phenomenally adept ability to convey not just what is there in front of the artist, but what is beautiful about what he sees before him. His understanding of cloud formations is extraordinary, and this talent that has helped to make him so well recognised in the past few years is evident in abundance again in this exhibition of 60 exciting new works. He has not only kept his breathless momentum going, but has picked up the baton and sprinted forward with it. This is perhaps the most striking body of work yet produced by Akers Douglas.
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Born in 1973, OAD is best known for his dramatic interpretations of the English landscape, and has even been described by critic Matthew Dennison as, "the foremost landscape painter of his generation".
Like many artists of the past, Oliver insists on working from life. However, by using a Land Rover with a large easel welded to the side Oliver is adapting traditional practice by being able to tackle ambitious compositions exclusively in the field without having to 'work up' pictures in the studio. As such, his work vividly conveys the experience of being on the spot, acting as material records of his interaction with the elements, of the changing weather and light. Many of his pictures depict the distinctive chalk downland near to his home in south Wiltshire with its steep-sided valleys and billowing cloudscapes. However his work is more than mere depiction - the whole business of looking and responding to the landscape is conducted in a highly-charged atmosphere. The paint is deployed rapidly in bold strokes creating a sense of urgency and conviction. Using a selection of palette knives and brushes, his mark-making is distinctively his, the surfaces of his pictures being themselves textured landscapes of pure pigment. Beyond the active process of manipulating paint there is also a serious concern with the formal aspects of picture construction, a fully-engaged attempt to resolve three dimensional experience in two dimensional terms.
While painting from an early age, a successful artist at school and having completed a Foundation course at Camberwell, Oliver is largely self taught as an artist. He graduated in 1997 from Edinburgh University with a first class degree in English Literature, initially working as a journalist and writer before returning to his vocation in 2000. Apart from producing several one-man shows, Oliver has worked to commission as a portraitist. He also produces still life, interior and figure studies during the winter months in his studio. His work is found in many collections both in England and abroad. He lives in Wiltshire with his young family.
Contact Oliver here.