British artist Geoffrey Humphries made Venice his home in 1966, and it has informed his work ever since. It is there in exquisite watercolours such as Sunset, Salute from Accademia and From Accademia Bridge to the Salute, which capture the essence of the city at a specific moment in time, but it is no less present in his nudes and self-titled “theatrical pieces”.
These and other works by Humphries will be on show, and sale (Sunset, Salute from Accademia, £1,750; From Accademia Bridge to the Salute, £1,850), at London’s Osborne Studio Gallery from Tuesday September 26 to Thursday October 12, in an exhibition that explores the painter’s love affair with La Serenissima.
A brilliant colourist and a master of shimmering light, Humphries is not only a significant contemporary artist but also has a reputation as a bon vivant, his studio having been the scene of many a riotous party. The theatrical pieces reflect some of that hedonism and play on Venice’s reputation as a place of excess, featuring underground night clubs and cabaret scenes peopled by femmes fatales, and the darker colours and half-concealed figures in works such as Nightclub Act (£20,000) reflect the tension between the outwardly beautiful city and its seamier, hidden interior.
The nudes, meanwhile, for which Humphries is perhaps best known, appear to be studies of the human figure, but many are as much depictions of his studio. Model and Milo in Studio (£21,500), for example, reveals an intimate, rather domestic, interior complete with a vase of flowers and a small dog, and Annemarie and Giudecca Studio (£28,000) not only shows the studio, but also, reflected in the mirrored wall that faces the windows, its waterfront location on the Giudecca.
Humphries can be seen in Annemarie and Giudecca Studio, standing at his easel in his trademark black hat, and like all of these paintings it both captures the spirit of the city and speaks eloquently of the artist himself.