Hester Finch is a London-based artist who studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University.
Hester works in a variety of media, from oil paint to pastel, concentrating primarily on nudes and landscapes. Her work is utterly captivating in its power to lure us in with her technical skill and her use of bright and inviting colours, and then trap us in a claustrophobic, often-nightmarish world. She says: "I paint figures and landscapes which are linked by a common distorted reality."
The subject of the female nude is a common theme in her work. She constructs angular and awkward bodies which are at once highly representational, and at the same time abstract in their faceted, flat planes of colour. Hester plays on the familiarity and predictability of an age old subject - the nude female model posing for the artist; but in her work, the mundane is juxtaposed with the surreal, and the gaze is subverted (no longer that of a male artist, musing the female body). It is this surreal quality which makes Hester's work so fascinating - her seated nudes are not seductive, but rather they feel watched to the extent that we, the viewer, become complicit as captors of these women. They are firmly seated in their chairs (by will?) and backed against a wall, often with a looming shadow creeping up behind them, suggesting that they are being surveyed under harsh light. Rooted in feminist theory, her works powerfully represent the female experience.
Her landscapes, despite also using an uplifting colour palette, are somehow also unsettling. Here, this feeling derives from the marked lack of bodies in these spaces. They have an impending sense of 'the calm before the storm', and Hester employs the harsh use of shadows with a similarly dramatic effect to that in her nudes.
In her most recent series of oil paintings, entitled The Portrait of a Lady, she depicted a seated headless nude woman in an interior space. However, in the series made for Partnership Editions "the nude woman has reclaimed her head, but her face is still a blank. The landscapes are broken down into planes and hyper real colours. Both images represent psychological spaces and the subjective, intangible versions of reality that we each live."
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