• The Moth and
    The Thunderclap

    4 February - 18 MARCH 2023

    Modern Art, London

  • Modern Art is pleased to announce a group exhibition featuring over 40 artists. Taking its title from a painting by the celebrated American artist Charles Burchfield, The Moth and The Thunderclap aims to show how artists have been compelled to reflect an indeterminate psychological space where nature and culture collide, often filtered through their experience of landscape. The work can be variously described as spectral dreamscapes, cosmological fantasies, celebrations of personal mythologies, surreal responses to a heightened sense of reality or simply personal responses to a direct experience of the natural world.
    The Moth and The Thunderclap curated by Simon Grant features an eclectic global mix of artists from modernism to the present day, including Marion Adnams (1898-1995), Abel Auer (1974-), Ever Baldwin (1978-), Forrest Bess (1911-1977), Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), Edward Burra (1905-1976), David Byrd (1926-2013), Justin Caguiat (1989-), Vija Celmins (1938-), Cecil Collins (1908-1989), Ithell Colquhoun (1906-1988), Andrew Cranston (1969-), Martyn Cross (1975-), Lois Dodd (1927-), Lera Dubitskaya (1996-), Vidya Gastaldon (1974-), Sanaa Gateja (1950-), Victor Gatto (1893-1965), Nyarrapyi Giles (1940-), Sky Glabush (1970-), Jane Hayes Greenwood (1986-), Nasim Hantehzadeh (1988-), Haroun Hayward (1983-), Uwe Henneken (1974-), Sanya Kantarovsky (1982-), Ken Kiff (1935-2001), Solange Knopf (1957-), Kinke Kooi (1961-), Mark Laver (1970-), Yimiao Liu (1993-), Amadeo Lorenzato (1900-1995), Bill Lynch (1960-2013), Heinrich Nüsslein (1879-1947), Laurie Nye (1972-), James Owens (1995-), Ngoia Pollard Napaltjarri (1948-2022), Lisa Sanditz (1973-), Trevor Shimizu (1978-), NH Stubbing (1921-1983), Oscar Tuazon (1975-), Frank Walter (1926-2009), Co Westerik (1924-2018), Aubrey Williams (1926-1990) and Alyina Zaidi (1995-).
  • Charles Burchfield, Winter Sunburst, 1960, watercolour, charcoal, and white chalk on joined paper mounted on board, 116 x 132 cm
  • Ngoia Pollard Napaltjarri, Wilkinkarra, 2017, synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen, 61 x 56 x 2 cm
  • In his painting Nebulic Cluster (Cosmos) 1985, the Guyanese artist Aubrey Williams (1926-1990) we find his reclamation of long buried myths and traditions of Amerindian cultures fused with a personal fascination with celestial bodies, inspired by the many nights he gazed through his telescope. In Cecil Collins’s Waters of the Sun (1962), a vast fireball globe tears through an empty, landscape. In Martyn Cross’s The Way of No Way (2022) giant and mysterious figures have become entangled with the ground, as if enveloping them, while in Vidya Gastaldon’s Marine Monster (2016) - which the artist calls one of her “healing paintings” - a large anthropomorphic shape jostles for space amid a mass of indeterminate organic forms.
    In what could be variously described as spectral dreamscapes, cosmological celebrations, spiritual explorations or simply personal responses to a direct experience of the natural world, these images move between abstraction, the biomorphic and the figurative, floating between inner and outer worlds, mixing both familiar and elusive imagery, sometimes guided by powers beyond their own, to construct narratives that can range from lyrical poeticism to surreal encounters, from the darkly comic to the reverential and transcendental.
  • Aubrey Williams, Nebulic Cluster (Cosmos), 1985 oil on canvas, 127.7 x 186.1 cm
  • Cecil Collins, Waters of the Sun, 1962, oil on board, 108 x 140.5 cm
  • Martyn Cross, The Way of No Way, 2022, oil on canvas, 40.6 x 35.6 cm
  • Vidya Gastaldon, Healing Painting (Marine monster), 2016, oil on vintage paint, 66.2 x 57.7 cm
  • Ithell Colquhoun

    Ithell Colquhoun

    According to Colquhoun specialist Richard Shillitoe “the spiritual properties of the location are well known. Jo Clearing, a pagan who had taken part with Colquhoun in a Samhain ceremony in 1980 at the fogou* at Roseberry, remembered a visit to the bay the following year accompanied by Starhawk, the author of The Spiral Dance (1979): ‘I took her walking along the coast. We went out to Nanjizal. We waded out to sea and we went into a cave and did some chanting’” [Quoted by Rupert White, The Re-enchanted Landscape, Antenna Publications 2017 p. 136]. *A fogou is an underground, dry-stone structure found on Iron Age or Romano-British-defended settlement sites in Cornwall. 
  • Ithell Colquhoun, Stalactite, 1962, oil on board, 158.5 x 46 x 3.5 cm
  • Edward Burra, Susana and the Elders, 1959-61, pencil, watercolour and gouache on paper, 92.2 x 149 cm
  • David Byrd, Landfill, 1999, oil on canvas, 53.3 x 68.6 cm
  • Uwe Henneken, In the heart of the wood and what i found there III, 2022, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm
  • Martyn Cross, Dark Warm Holes, 2022, oil on canvas, 20.3 x 30.5 x 2 cm
  • Charles Burchfield

    Charles Burchfield

    In his diary entry for 2 January 1916 Charles Burchfield wrote: “A riotous wind this morning – the windy sunlight sent flashes of brilliant yellow houses up against the storm-dark North.” The sunburst would be a prominent feature in some of Burchfield’s most powerful celebrations of nature, always based on his sensations of the shifting weather. It was Burchfield’s intense empathy with his surroundings that led him to create that would lead to a particularly incandescent synesthetic blend of sound, smell and vision – be it the vibrant sun on a crisp winter’s day, the hot crackle of leaves drying in the heat or the deep rhythmic hum of insects in the air.

  • Charles Burchfield, The Fragrance of Spring (Bee Hepaticas), c. 1962, watercolour, charcoal, and chalk on paper, 117 x 94.7 x 5 cm
  • Sanaa Gateja, Inner Garden, 2019, paper, acrylic stitched on bark cloth, 124 x 156 cm
  • Victor Gatto, Tiger in the Night Jungle, 1940s, oil on canvas board, 29.7 x 35 cm
  • Lois Dodd, Cow Parsnip in Bud, 2011, oil on Masonite, 61 x 43.3 cm
  • Jane Hayes Greenwood, The Rupture, 2022, oil on linen, 110 x 90 cm
  • Ever Baldwin

    Ever Baldwin

    “The title of this painting is Fallow, which refers to a field at rest, a period of rejuvenation between planting cycles. I was working on it in September, surrounded by the changing fall landscape of the woods and fields around my home and studio. The painted image came to me as a reminder to slow down and notice how we are participating in larger earthly and cosmic cycles.” [Image: Ever Baldwin, Fallow, 2022, oil on canvas in charred wood frame, 100 x 75.5 x 10 cm]
  • Ken Kiff, The Snail (S-188), 1983-84, acrylic on paper, 80.5 x 64.5 cm
  • Justin Caguiat, Pissing in the Stars, 2022, oil and gouache on linen, 248.3 x 328.3 cm
  • Laurie Nye, Horror Vacui Tree for Thee, 2022, oil on linen, 172.3 x 147.5 cm
  • Kinke Kooi, Mimesis (2), 2016, acrylic, colour pencil, gouache on paper, 83 x 64 cm
  • Haroun Hayward

    Haroun Hayward

    “On a recent artists residency in a rural part of England I spent a month walking the same path through the forest every day. This work is about location, environment, how changing light transforms and what Paul Nash called 'places': ‘There are places, he wrote, ‘just as there are people and objects and works of art, whose relationship of parts creates a mystery, an enchantment, which cannot be analysed.’” [Image: Haroun Hayward, Entrance To A Lane, no3, 2022, watercolour on paper, 83.5 x 64 cm]
  • Haroun Hayward, Craigs Birch Winter, no7, 2022, watercolour on paper, 83.5 x 64 cm
  • Mark Laver, If I could make the world as pure, and strange as what I see, 2022, oil on wood panel, 121.9 x 121.9 x 4 cm
  • James Owens, Lost my shape, trying to act casual, 2022, oil on canvas, 160 x 140 x 2 cm
  • Lera Dubitskaya, Swamp, 2021, oil with coloured pencil on paper, 32 x 33 cm
  • Abel Auer, Japanischer Traum, 2011, oil and acrylic on canvas, 150.5 x 120 x 2 cm
  • Sky Glabush

    Sky Glabush

    “I have long admired Burchfield’s work and often cite it as inspiration. In part I appreciate his vision of the landscape as something humming with some unseen energy, alive and familiar but also weird and a bit discomfiting. He took spaces I recognize - as I live only a couple hours away from Buffalo where a lot of this work was derived - and used them to invent a language that was dreamy and personal while grounded in the raw feeling of the place. His use of watercolour is also something that I value as it enhances the way his work slides into some alternate reality based on a clarity of observation but also one that has become entirely his own and not indebted to an image or preconception. But most importantly, what draws me to his work is the idea that you can start with an understanding of place or light or a forest but that this is simply a starting point for a painting to occur and what really matters is that the internal relationships feel real and alive regardless of how they look. In other words, it is a kind of invented language, but the syntax and grammar are rooted in observation and feeling.” [Image: Sky Glabush, Night Dance, 2022, oil and sand on canvas, 244 x 183 x 4 cm]
  • Forrest Bess, Untitled (No. 14), 1951, oil on canvas, 27 x 29.5 cm
  • Bill Lynch, No title [Trees, Center Tree Pink Blossom], n.d., oil on wood, 57.5 x 56.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Sanya Kantarovsky, Lush, 2022, oil on linen, 80 x 60 x 2.5 cm
  • Frank Walter, Untitled (Sky with clouds over green sea), oil on biocomposite material with Masonite, 23.5cm diameter
  • Heinrich Nüsslein

    Heinrich Nüsslein

    The German artist Heinrich Nüsslein (1879-1947) encountered spiritualist circles in 1924 and discovered his abilities for mediumistic painting. He mostly painted in darkness, using only his fingers and rags, often finishing a picture in several minutes. An eyewitness in 1928 wrote: "In spiritual connection with a creative, extrasensory power that cancels time and space, this painter produces peculiar portraits, strange landscapes occupied by a powerful rhythm, figure compositions, infernal plunges burned by all passions, celestial flights transfigured by aureoles, and etheric figures [that] float through the rooms.”
  • Nyarapayi Giles, Warmurrungu, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 75.4 x 122 cm
  • Lisa Sanditz, Upside Down Winter, 2022, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 x 4 cm
  • Alyina Zaidi, An evening constitutional, 2023, acrylic on wood, 40cm diameter x 2.4cm
  • Trevor Shimizu, Bats, 2022, oil on canvas, 125 x 132 x 3.3 cm
  • Marion Adnams

    Marion Adnams

    An underrated figure in the world of Surrealism, Marion Adnams (1898-1995) started her career as a teacher but re-trained at Derby School of Art in the 1930s and later became head of art at the Derby Diocesan Training College. While she never joined a Surrealist group, her imagined and fantastical landscapes, often suggestive of strong folkoric and mythical traditions, were widely exhibited across the UK over four decades.
  • Andrew Cranston, Four in the morning, 2022, distemper and oil on canvas, 94 x 78.7 cm
  • Amadeo Lorenzato, Untitled, 1980, oil on hardboard, 47.5 x 42 cm
  • Solange Knopf, Les Boucliers Protecteurs (The Protective Shields), 2016, coloured pencil and graphite on bamboo fiber paper, 86.2 x 116.5 cm
  • Yimiao Liu, Marfusha, 2022, graphite and coloured pencil on paper, 61 x 81 cm
  • N.H. Stubbing

    N.H. Stubbing

    After a visit to the prehistoric cave paintings at Altamira in Spain in 1949, N.H. (Tony) Stubbing (1921-1983) was inspired to paint with his hands. As his wife Yvonne would recount later: “When he first entered the cave he found a hand outlined on the wall near the Bull paintings.. a signature perhaps? It was like an outlined stencil ... the first stencil! Done with pigments squeezed through a pig bladder Tony suggested. He put his hand over the hand and it fitted perfectly ... fingers exactly the same length ... width, palm the same shape ... perhaps it was from that moment he started identifying with prehistorical man.” 
  • Oscar Tuazon, Fire Circle IV, 2022, watercolour on paper, 31 x 31 cm
  • Nasim Hantehzadeh, Talking through the window, 2023, oil and oil stick on linen, 40.6 x 61 cm
  • Vija Celmins, Untitled (Dark Sky 3), 2016, Mezzotint on Hahnemühle Copperplate Bright White paper in artist’s frame, 57.8 x 51.4 cm, Edition 9/35
  • Co Westerik, Odorous Flower, 2016, tempera alkyd oil on canvas, 66.5 x 87 cm