John Monks is an artist who’s been on our radar for some time now, so we’ve been eagerly awaiting this solo show. His ability to create foreboding and neglected scenes in his expressionist style and then brighten them up with little explosions of colour ensures he stands apart from most of his peers.
His interior paintings have the feel of a haunted house. A spectral form lies asleep in the bed and the chandelier writhes as if it’s alive. Yet his injections of greens, oranges and blues never let his paintings stray too far into darkness and ensure there is a level of warmth in his works.
The external landscapes may not be as effective but still impress in their own right. A massive river painting features towering white trees and the river which feels both mired in an algal sludge and free flowing at the same time. Even a simple cluster of trees by a riverbank appears to coalesce and creates a monstrous form in what would otherwise be an idyllic scene.
Monks’s effusive style provides enough ambiguity in his work so that they can be interpreted as both intimidating and also aesthetically pleasing. His layers of paint add a depth to his paintings that sucks the viewer in and enables Monks to experiment with the interplay of light and shadow.
This is an excellent solo exhibition and a great showcase for one of our favourite contemporary painters.
John Monks: Day In Day Out is on at Long & Ryle, 4 John Islip St, SW1P 4PX until 21 June. Admission is free.