Arenig, North Wales
1913 by James Dickson Innes
Innes’s life was sadly short lived. Born in South Wales, Innes trained at Slade before joining the New English Art Club and Camden Town Group, painting emphatically in the London scene of the beginning of the twentieth century. Though he painted throughout England, particularly in Wales (with Augustus John in 1911), he travelled extensively, seeking warmer climes after being diagnosed with tuberculosis and it was this that killed him at 27. The paintings are wonderfully dreamy and fantastical; coming across this in the Tate Britian’s new hang, one would hardly think that the subject was North Wales. Innes draws the soul of a place out through colour, enhancing and embellishing natural hues with the intensity of feeling and emotion. The blue waters of the lake are deepened to regal purple, dashes of lilac dancing on the surface, the tide curving inwards in a swirl of indigo. Brilliant turquoise sweeps up the mountain, teeming, a world away from any natural green. The sugary pink of the mountain tops is caught in the shafts of light rippling from the pillowy sky; the clouds swelling above the moody depth of the lake, lifting and fading in the distance. The small hills in the distance fan out like the inside of a shell, while the lone tree in the foreground is silhouetted eerily against the magical sky. It is these details that give the painting its divine and exotic atmosphere, infusing the composition with a feel of faraway lands.