“The places that I paint aren’t necessarily from real life - even though I’m dealing with still life and landscapes, I’m not observing the objects actually in front of me or painting ‘en plein air’. It’s usually from memory, personal photos or a story about that place. I’m more inspired by the observation of something rather than the thing itself. When I paint I’m trying to translate and transform objects and space through colour and composition, rather than portraying it accurately.”
London-based artist Cara Nahaul (b. 1987, UK) saturates landscapes and interiors with colour and imagination, to create sites of reflection upon identity, culture and memory. Her vibrant paintings explore the character of tropical places, in particular those connected with her familial heritage. In these works, pink palms sway against lemon hued skies, row boats lay scattered across scarlet beaches, and periwinkle mountains loom in the distance.
Painting from personal memories, photographs, and stories collected from her childhood and present-day, Nahaul constructs dream-like atmospheres and compositions through her intuitive and lively use of colour, blended softly with minimal line and form. Her experimental colour combinations summon differing energies: the silence and stillness of an inner courtyard, the intense pulsating heat of midday sun, or the cooling blush of sunset. Meanwhile, the flattened perspectives through the use of block colour and patten, and the simplification of form, allow the sense of place to take precedence over any true representation of location or narrative.
Nahaul’s drawings play an integral role in the development of her paintings, and push her use of simple line, form and bold colour even further into view. The use of coloured paper, and varying density of pastel and pencil markings evoke the magic and magnetisms of these otherworldly places.
Warming and alluring, Nahaul’s invented settings shift between the highly fictive and fantastically real, alluding to a personal and psychological undercurrent that quietly reverberates throughout. The artist invites viewers to imagine how they might mine, reconstruct and reflect upon their own personal histories.
Cara Nahaul is an artist living and working in London. She received a BA from Goldsmiths University, London and an MFA from Parsons The New School for Design, New York. Her work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at Taymour Grahne Projects and Trade Gallery. She has been selected for the John Moores Painting Prize twice, the inaugural Jerwood Painting Fellowship, and the Contemporary British Painting Prize, and recently completed public commissions for Vital Arts and Hospital Rooms.