The tour of Shakespeare’s Globe includes access to Special Exhibitions galleries below the Theatre; through 20 December 2013, artwork by Tom de Freston is installed in a solo show, “Paintings after Shakespeare” in the lower ground floor hall. A concurrent show of de Freston’s paintings, “The Charnel House” is on at Breese Little, London from 13th November 2013 through 11th January 2014.
Painting and theatre meld to show “humanity as a ‘poor forked animal’”
Tom de Freston’s paintings currently installed at The Globe continue his “…engagement with tragedy in literature”. But don’t expect to see illustrations of Shakespeare plays here; de Freston’s work instead is an artistic response to the Bard’s tragedies, without offering anything like a pictorial run-down of the tales.
More to the point, what the artist would like viewers to take away from his work is a new understanding of the “relationship between painting and theatre, how images are staged, and how narrative occurs in painting.” de Freston goes on to emphasise the key elements in these works, such as surreal background scenes and the bizarre human/non-human figures, all relate to “…theatricality of the works, not in the sense that they are dramatic, but rather that the figures in the paintings are players”.
de Freston avoids linear narrative and instead probes “…essential themes of humanity such as self‐reflection, conflict, loss, fear and mortality”. Closely installed, the fine thread between the same-sized paintings is instinctively apparent yet just out of reach, leaving the viewer with the sense of glimpsing a few snatched pages from a visual novel in which the hero could just as well be the vanquished.
The Charnel House – Breese Little gallery
In a concurrent exhibition at Breese Little from 13th November 2013 through 11th January 2014, painter Tom de Freston continues his scrutiny of “‘humanity on the very edge of disintegration'”.
The works, all 200 x 150 cm, are installed mere centimetres apart, and fill the gallery walls back to front in a purposeful arrangement in which an unsuspecting visitor will meet a somewhat dramatic, maybe even religious, experience. “I wanted people to think of a chapel”, says de Freston of the set-up. Equal parts humour and horror, the large format oil paintings show horse-headed creature clamouring to be centre stage; yet once in the aura of the spotlight, life turns out to be not quite as they expected.
There will be an opportunity to meet Tom de Freston and hear more about his work in an artist talk on Tuesday 26th November, 7 pm at Breese Little in London**.
More links and information
- Special Exhibitions listing at Shakespeare’s Globe
- Images of Tom de Freston at Shakespeare’s Globe
- Tom de Freston’s website
- Tom de Freston: The Charnel House
- Interview with Tom de Freston in Eight Cuts online magazine
- Review of Tom de Freston at The Globe in Wall Street International online – 4 November 2013 – “Shakespeare’s plays have long been a rich source of inspiration for de Freston’s ongoing experiments with essential themes of humanity such as self-‐reflection, conflict, loss, fear and mortality.”
- Getty Images of Tom de Freston at The Globe – images by Oli Scarff
** Editor’s note: Breese Little has since moved location to: Unit 1, 249 – 253 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 6JY.
–Tom de Freston: Paintings after Shakespeare is at Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT from 4 November through 20 December 2013.
– Tom de Freston: The Charnel House is on from 13th November 2013 through 11th January 2014 at Breese Little in London**. Private View: Tuesday 12th November, 6 – 9 pm. Artist Talk: Tuesday 26th November, 7 pm.