John Nash: The Landscape of Love and Solace
Towner Eastbourne is pleased to present the most comprehensive major exhibition of work in over 50 years by John Nash, one of the most versatile and prolific artists of the 20th century. The Landscape of Love and Solace opens at Towner on 1 May until 26 September 2021 and will tour to Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park from 23 Oct 2021 to 2 January 2022.
In a career spanning more than seven decades, Nash produced work across a range of mediums, from iconic oil paintings, now housed in some of Britain’s most important collections, to accomplished wood engravings, line-drawings, lithographs and watercolours.
Combining acute observation and a strong individual vision Nash’s oeuvre includes many of the finest depictions of the British landscape created in the 20th century. Often overshadowed by his brother and fellow artist Paul Nash, John Nash has not been the subject of a major exhibition since the Royal Academy’s retrospective exhibition of his work in 1967, which at this time was also an unprecedented honour for a living Royal Academician. Nash was one of a small number of artists who were Official War Artists in both the First and Second World Wars. An artist who did not have formal art school training, he was greatly respected by his contemporaries, particularly for his production of one of the most highly regarded paintings of the Great War, Over the Top, 1918, now in the Imperial War Museum Collection. He is also now renowned for his ‘thanksgiving to survival’ of the Great War, The Corn Field, 1918, which features in this exhibition along with a range of other first and second world war-era works.
Nash was a comic illustrator of note and was also a keen plantsman, creating gardens from the 1920s onwards, developing into arguably one of the 20th century’s greatest botanical artists. Renowned in the horticultural world as a judge at Chelsea Flower Show, he also passed on these skills through his teaching at the Royal College of Art and Flatford Mill in Suffolk. A wide range of these botanical works will be seen for the first time in this exhibition and is a chance for audiences to see Nash’s oeuvre at its most broad.
The Landscape of Love and Solace will contextualise the artist’s life and work within the history of the 20th century, and in particular via his key relationships with Dora Carrington and Christine Kuhlenthal, who later became his wife. Works will also be presented from friends and peers including Edward Bawden, Peter Coker, Charles Ginner, Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman, Cedric Morris, Eric Ravilious and Carel Weight.
The exhibition will also tell the story of Nash’s relationship with his wife Christine Kulenthal and the death of their young son, through a range of never seen before photographs and diaries. The Landscape of Love and Solace has been co-curated by Andy Friend, independent curator and Sara Cooper, Head of Exhibitions and Collections, Towner Eastbourne and organised for Compton Verney by Penelope Sexton, Senior Curator, Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park.
To coincide with the exhibition, Thames & Hudson have published a long-overdue biography of John Nash, with the same title as the exhibition. Written by Andy Friend, with a foreword by David Dimbleby, it draws on original research to provide great insight into Nash’s life, work and artistic and personal relationships.