- Biography/About Jonathan
- News Articles
- Selected exhibitions and Galleries Featuring Jonathan's Work
- Thomas Cooper Gotch
- Cary Grant
I was born in July of 1972, brought into this world by the kind staff of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. Both my parents were born in England and moved to Ireland in the late 60’s. Among my fathers family are several noted creative types including Tomas Cooper Gotch, who’s works make valuable contributions to collections around the world.
Also worth a mention would be my great, great uncle Archibald Leach better known by his stage name, Cary Grant. He is known for his leading roles in films like North by northwest and To catch a thief. His father has his clinically depressed mother institutionalised and abandoned his son then aged 10. Cary Grant did not learn of his mothers fate until he was 31 years old.
My earliest memories of the creative process are of watching Dad, Peter and his brother Graham at work. I recall them both at work using what could only be described as a hovel that Graham had rented in County Wicklow, where by using arts council funding, the pair endeavoured to form and make active The Wicklow Fine Art Press. The intent was to make and sell copper plate etched prints using a printing press designed and built by my Dad. As I recall the grant money was spent on firewood and booze rather than paper and ink and so alas Wicklow was denied the fervent efforts of two broke art college graduates. At the same time as the two brothers were "busy at work" in Wicklow my mother was undertaking a diploma in the History of European painting at Trinity College Dublin. With art books strewn around the house and paintings pilled up in every corner I soon found myself learning style and technique.
Both Peter and Graham were involved in painting , print making and sculpture and are currently still both at work. My Dad is noted for his fine watercolour landscapes and copper plate prints and Graham has a growing reputation as an internationally regarded painter and sculptor.
At age 14 my formal education came to an abrupt end. I found it more and more difficult to conform to the then school ethos that every boy must look and sound the same. Refusal by my parents to have my dread locks removed and insistance by the school that I was not an individual and must conform to institutional rules, led to me turning my back on my formal education and I duly considered my options and began work with my father in the construction of copper plate etching presses. As the only producer at the time of printing presses we travelled throughout Ireland building presses for Art colleges and private individuals. The pay I received was poor, £20 per day and the work laborious and painful, often lifting massive 200lb steel rollers around college campuses. Our work building presses brought me to Switzerland, Germany and England.
As my Dad’s reputation as a painter grew work constructing printing presses fizzled out and I began to work framing pictures and paintings for galleries in Dublin. In the course of this work I became exposed to the palet of some of Irelands most note worthy artists including Yeats, le Brocquy, Paul Henry, Gerald Dillon and Harry Kernoff to name a few and it was during this time I started to experiment with paint and pastels.
I taught myself to paint in the same way someone might teach him or herself to play a musical instrument. A mixture of the amalgamation of influence taken from all my favourite artists and working with my own personal observations. In this way I have developed my own style which progresses as logic dictates and in doing so this allows me to foster amity between what has already been learned and that which is yet to be uncovered. I have also been playing the guitar since I was 14 years old.
I find myself drawn to the group of German painters known as the Expressionists. Artists like Otto Muller , Emil Nolde, Kandinsky, August Macke, Beckmann, Franz Marc, Kirchner, Heckel, Pechstein and Egon Schiele. They were a rebellious group of artists who focused on form and colour. They ignored the political and religious pressure to paint historical events and state occasions. No more nymphs, heros and allegories. This brave group of artists helped in making art more accessible to ordinary people. They helped in bringing art to the masses.
When I paint my primary concern is colour. I love the conflict between rushes of vibrant colour and bold stark lines. Colour gives roundness to a surface, depth in the feeling of a surface. Colour is the rhythm, form and mood of a picture. Second to colour comes content. When I paint I try to make the ordinary seem more extraordinary. Each work represents the feeling of my personal state of mind at that time. Every painting is to me a self portrait. It is a representation of myself yet I always adopt a different set of facial features, a different body, indeed a different colour, an alter ego designed I think to brave my many failings and rare successes. Humanity, the humour of a situation, the bleakness of life, the battle of the sexes and the urge to carry on regardless are all facets of life I find fascinating. These aspects of life constantly appear in my compositions and I endeavour to find new techniques and ways of applying colour to better represent the constantly evolving and complex way I deal with the emotions I experience day to day. I find it very easy to become emmersed in painting, spending more often than not 20 hours a day at work, too busy to eat and regarding any interruption as a cat flap for profanities. Spending too much time intelectualising or planning a painting is my last concern. I paint first and then think about it later.
I find myself immensely lucky to do the work that I love doing so much and I endeavour to keep safe my ability and if my production of work should as some stage merit recognition or some degree of success is met I shall with great satisfaction undertake to send the elevator back down.