Often drawing upon his own personal memories Jonathan Purday’s use of photography and film stills is carried forward into his practice. His paintings display the artist’s core aesthetics bringing together a selection of colours that are exploited by the often harsh dark void that confronts them. Memory and its waywardness becomes the real subject of these pieces, as the artist often works not from the image but his recollection of it. Consequently, compositional organisation and detail often become ‘lost in translation.’ A short time living in Portugal was the inspiration for a series of paintings created in 2010/2011.
Landscape works which depict scenes in and around where he was living, they seek to address the rugged and untamed charm of the wilderness. At the same time as producing these works he was also writing ‘Haiku’ poems – a form of Japanese poetry traditionally printed in a single vertical line that often takes aspects of the natural world as its subject matter – and consequently some of this series of works could be seen as visual interpretations of these Haikus. Film references are still present in the new paintings, most notably in ‘Homage to Red Squirrel’, which was made in response to the opening scene of the film of the same name. Previous works have taken scenes of struggle and conflict, creating gentle pyrotechnics, turning the blockbuster films of violence and confrontation into soft-edged explosions, pastel-coloured atrocities as soothing to the eye as a Matisse. In more recent work Purday draws on basic desires and illusions of both past, present and future with its twisted existence and often unexpected reality, addressing both urban and rural environments. There is a sense of alienation in these often uninhabited landscapes, each of which point towards a society lacking in substance at which its centre, once religion, is replaced by the state of play found in sport and the fantasy away from the constant flux of the cities in the countryside but which have however become highlighted by the natural disasters that it increasingly witnesses.
His most recent series of paintings, inspired by a trip to Marrakech, explore how ancient and modern civilizations are forced to collide due to tourism. With a focus on composition paired with mesmerizingly harsh yet beautifully illuminating light, pieces such as ‘Jungle Fever’ feature designer holiday homes that exist in a secluded tropical oasis in a city of dust. In these works Purday has mixed Moroccan pigment with acrylic paint to create his desired palette, forming a connection between the materials used and the subject they’ve created.
Since finishing his Fine Art degree at Bath in 1994, Purday has exhibited widely, including a number of solo shows in London. Purday’s ‘Skewed Surveillance’ was featured on a Gomez album cover, released March 2002, and other works, such as ‘Celestial Dusk’ have been used on posters and other merchandise for the band.