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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