One hundred and thirty two

The Studios from the Garden

2008-9 by Geoff Routh
Long&Ryle Gallery, London

Routh’s exhibition Absence and Presence is set to run at the Long&Ryle from the 7th May to the 5th of June. His paintings are detailed depictions of scenes left to themselves; part of a garden or the back of a house, these are quiet stills empty of person yet rife with the presence of what has been. Discarded paint pots, chairs and papers lie semi-hidden on the patio among the debris of the garden; a blue tarpaulin sags under the weight of leaves, the weight of change in the seasons, the pressing weight of time. There is a great feeling of discard, disuse, among these scattered objects; however it is not a sad neglect that governs this painting but rather a quiet absence, an atmosphere of calm, of hidden silence, where one might escape. The scene has been left to its own devices, left to the creeping up of nature that needs no human attendance. Foliage is overgrown, un-kempt and spreads across the painting; strong, it is bold in lush green and earthy orange browns. Leaves, both dry and growing, are littered across the canvas; they huddle upon the floor and are scattered through the air, independent it seems from the branches that hold them. It is an interesting juxtaposition that trees so rife, so overtaking, should be backed completely by the white washed walls and windows of a house. There is no sky in this painting, no distance or horizon, yet the spreading of the trees stop any claustrophobia. The scene remains intimate; indeed this could not be the sanctity of untouched and hidden space if the rest of the world were in view.

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