PAUL DENHAM – LANDSCAPE TO LIGHT
The vast expansive landscape of the North of England, the rugged moorland, the weathered outcrops of stone, the old mining scars now half reclaimed by nature, have captivated and inspired Paul Denham throughout his painting career. His connection with these places runs deep; he revisits them in his memory and the act of remembering brings with it a process of filtering, fermenting and change.
Denham’s landscape paintings are allowed to evolve, deliberately adapting painting methods to accentuate the making process; they often begin by applying a thick ground that he can carve and score into. This gives the painting a physicality from the outset, an earthiness that echoes the natural materials of peat or gritstone found on the moors. Markings this ground, suggestive of contours and features in the landscape, set in motion a working process that culminates in richly painted surfaces revealing traces of previous colour and texture underneath.
The many glazes, layers, textures, scratches and abrasions in the paintings allude to what he refers to as “the geology of markings”. Deeply embedded in the surface of paint is the history of its making, and this gives Denham’s work a strong sense of embarking a journey into the memory of landscape.
Wild landscape is sometimes tempered by the gentler terrain of fields and woodlands; he has a special connection with Raby Park in Teesdale where he grew up. English colour, flat greens, steel blues, ochres, umbers, warm greys, produces in Denham’s work the character of Northern light and expresses a fascination with the raw elemental forces of nature. High up on exposed moorland under dramatic darkening skies, looking into luminous pools of reflected light in ever changing atmospheric conditions, or aware of a glowing light on a distant horizon, these paintings are reassuring expressions of the euphoria, excitement and optimism of our contact with the natural world.