FOR the first time, York artist Jake Attree is holding a solo exhibition at Messum’s in Cork Street, London’s art hub in Mayfair, from today.
Noted for being a bold draughtsman and painter in oils, Jake illustrates his command of cityscape in his new views of his home city and London.
He is fascinated by how cities evolve, a fascination that is reflected in his technique in which he works each canvas thoroughly, building his surfaces in a manner not unlike the architectural layers of the urban realities that inspire him.
Jake’s compositions are conceptually based not around form, but air and space, from which a city’s edifices and people emerge.
Born in York, Jake trained at art schools in York and Liverpool before going on to the Royal Academy Schools in London, where he won the Turner Bronze Medal.
He returned to the north in 1987, since when York, “with its medieval centre surrounded by boundless modern energy”, has remained his muse.
His abiding feelings are summed up by a childhood memory: “As a boy, my father had taken me to an earthwork on the South Bank of the River Ouse in York, Baile Hill, which had at one time supported a wooden bailey tower, hence the name,” says Jake.
“There was a large rookery in the trees growing on the hill and I was immediately struck by how much Bruegel’s Gloomy Day reminded me of the experience of standing on Baile Hill with my father.”
Welcoming Jake’s work to Messum’s walls, gallery director Kristian Day says: “Each of the 53 works betrays intense observation at its core, worked on repeatedly over time until the image comes into focus. Or, as his fellow Yorkshiremen would put it, they display ‘good hard graft’.”
Kristian reflects on how York features heavily in Jake’s new collection. “His images take the viewer on a walking tour of York, through the medieval streets, over the River Ouse, and right up to the top of Britain’s largest gothic church, York Minster,” he says.
“Jake climbed the 275 steps to the Minster’s central tower several times to produce the series of paintings, Views Across An Ancient City, presented at Messum’s; the red rooftops sprawling out towards the horizon, abstracting in a way that recalls the grid-like compositions of Jake’s early influence, Piet Mondrian, and perhaps even the Roman mosaics made by the city’s founders.”
Summarising the exhibition, Kristian says: “It shows an artist with a sense of time, history and place that is linked intrinsically with his birthplace and yet aspires to connect universally. We hope visitors agree that his hard graft has paid off.”
• Jake’s exhibition runs until February 2.