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Nick Schlee: ‘Looking at Water’


Returning 24 years after he first exhibited with us, Schlee presents an exhibition of oil paintings and works on paper capturing the constant movement, beauty and colour of moving water.

“Usually painters paint water just as the camera captures it recording how it looks in a single fraction of a second. The image is frozen. The person looking at the pictures probably recognises the image as one of a sequence they have themselves have seen, whether a slow swirl reflected on a swimming pool bottom, or the spitting spray on the crest of a wave. Their memory fills in the blanks either side of that frozen moment.

When I tried to single out one particular moment to record in paint I found my eye darted about the water’s surface without stopping, distracted from one flash of the sun to another even more inviting. My eyes were led a merry dance across a myriad of attractions, and I found it increasingly difficult to try and assimilate exactly what I was looking at.

My solution was to assemble a conglomeration of pastel strokes that suggested the rapid moves my eyes had to make when surveying various portions of the turmoil of movement before them. In this way I hope to get the viewer to share the excitement of looking at water that I have.”

– Nick Schlee

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Two men and a woman using tin plates to row a canoe in the 1930s
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