Letting his art do the speaking, Conrad Jon Godly unveils his first UK exhibit in Mayfair
To See Is Not To Speak will be the first UK showing for the Swiss abstract oil artist
Artist Conrad Jon Godly is bringing the spirit of the Swiss alps into the heart of London as his new exhibition, To See Is Not To Speak, is unveiled at the JD Malat Gallery Mayfair on Friday 25 January. The abstract landscape artist, who lives between Switzerland and Japan, has reached new heights with his new works, which depict mountainous ranges in startling textures thanks to the thick peaks of oil that appear to run from the canvas itself.
“The fascinating thing about the mountains is that they're never the same,” Godly told Tempus. “Even if they stand for eternity, they change from day to day. One moment they can be frightening and a short time after, they can unfold pure beauty and lightness. One day they are veiled, the other day they expose all the sublime.”
It’s the first time that the famed artist has showcased his work in the UK, with Godly attending the opening from 2pm – 5pm to meet fans, buyers and sign prints. The exhibition is a continuation of his Kyoto solo show, Dark Is Light, and addresses the relationship between nature and the sublime on large scale canvas between 150cm x 130cm to 200cm x 250cm.
"Japanese people prefer to look at things in very concentrated way, taking the time to feel and understand, whether it's about life, nature or art. I was deeply impressed experiencing this kind of thinking, and it had a huge impact on me as a human and as an artist," Godly told Tempus. "My way of painting is full concentration – it's almost like meditation. I concentrate on the images I have inside of me, and then I start to paint. Working for so many years with oil paint, I know what I’m capable to create with this medium. There are endless possibilities working with oil paint. I never planned to use such huge amounts of oil paint in this collection, but as I added more and more oil paint I realized it gave my paintings another dimension."
Godly was approached by gallery owner Jean David Malat to curate a solo collection in September 2018, and created all the works within two months, taking inspiration from Japanese writer Kobayashi Hideo. “Hideo wrote: ‘To see is not to speak because words could distract your eyes’,” He said: “When I was thinking deeply about his words, I realized how right he was.
“I am very happy that I am now represented by such a prestigious gallery in the UK,” he added. “Jean-David has a lot of experience in the art world and an immense sense for art. It's a great chance for me to show my works in a solo exhibition for the first time in London. I painted the new works in this show with enormous physical effort and you can feel that when you stand in front of them – they're alive,” he said.” >>
For Malat’s part, showcasing Godly’s work was a mixture of artistic admiration and good business sense. "Investing in art is investing in culture and history. Art is timeless and good art will stand the test of time,” he advises collectors. "The most important thing is to buy what you love and what grabs your emotions and attention. Research on the artist is important, what collections he is in, both private and public, where he has exhibited and his market value. With emerging artists, there will be less to research and one just has to take a risk. It’s exciting because there’s a real opportunity."
Godly takes inspiration from Japanese artists in his technique as much as his mental approach. “My brushstrokes are the essence of my paintings,” he said. “And since my brushstrokes are similar to Asian Sansui painting or calligraphy, my works are very much cherished in Asia. Asian and Western people have a very different approach and imagination when it comes to art, and brushstrokes are very important for Asian art.
“In the West, people are more fascinated what paintings convey. They tell me that they experienced the mountains or the sea, and that my paintings are able to convey the same feeling as nature,” he said. “Great Britain has a long history of oil painting and has brought up some of the greatest painters in art history. The country has kept the passion and tradition for painting alive, and I think British people have a lot of understanding for painting, which is rare.
“Through my paintings I want to cause emotions. If my works are capable to affect people then I have reached my goal as a painter and it's a huge satisfaction for me and the best compliment!”
To See Is Not To Speak is open to the public from 25 January – 2 March at the JD Malat Gallery Mayfair