Michelle Dovey has been painting trees and landscapes for several years. In this new body of work she presents a series of landscape scenes that have been created from memory and which do not depict specific places. In previous work, Dovey explored the use of trees in the work of eighteenth century painters such as George Stubbs, JMW Turner, and Antoine Watteau. If these new fictional landscapes are reminiscent of earlier artistic traditions it is because Dovey has internalized a formal vocabulary and is now using it to create paintings that express deeply personal, yet universal emotions.
In her work Dovey is attempting to realise an image that comes from a moment of stillness. The wet, thinned oil paint provides a clue to its intuitive application in energetic strokes and daubs. Pathways and horizons feature heavily in these works. Below a swirling sky, full of heavy pink clouds, a discrete muddy path leads to a valley and a hill beyond. Trying to make sense of the seemingly chaotic world around us, the path through the landscape transforms into a passage through full and varied emotional situations. It is only after the painting has been completed that Dovey is able to reflect on its underlying emotional content.
As portraits of a day, these imaginary trees and landscapes can be understood as vehicles for conveying a particular frame of mind at a particular time. A cluster of skinny grey trees in one painting might be interpreted as conveying a sense of loneliness or despair, while the acid green grass and soft pink clouds in another canvas seem hopeful. Collectively, Doveys works recall sensations experienced throughout the everyday.
Born in Oxford, Michelle Dovey was raised in New Zealand and received her Masters at the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1998. She has exhibited at E31 Gallery, Athens (2005) and OneTwentyGallery, Gent (2007). Her first solo exhibition was held at Gimpel Fils in 2006 and she lives and works in London.